The Bulldogs’ season has had a few twists, turns, and triumphs. The Bulldogs open the D-II SE District Soccer Tournament with triumph over the Miami Trace Panthers at Joe Burrow Stadium on Monday night.
The game opened with seniors Annie Moulton and Tess Wilhelm confidently collaborating on a several give-and-goes to carry the ball into Panther’s territory. Both teams showed physicality in their play, resulting in several direct kicks throughout the game.
Before the fans could warm their seats, Moulton captured the first goal by converting a direct kick into points on the board.
Two minutes later, Wilhelm followed. The scene started with Kateyanne Walburn dribbling the ball up the field. When rushed by a Panther, she sent it up the line to Moulton. Moulton and Wilhelm did a one-two-dance, and when Moulton sent it back central Wilhelm snagged the 2nd goal by putting the ball in the upper left corner.
Three minutes later, Senior Chloe Clevenger capitalized on a corner kick from Moulton. She trapped and shot to bring the score to 3-0.
The Panthers tried to respond. Jana Griffith thought she might have a break away into Bulldog territory, yet her speed was quickly matched stride-for-stride by Athens defender, Ella Chapman, who edged her out and prevented a shot on goal.
The Bulldogs had some beautiful passes and gorgeous crosses, with shots taken by Quinn Murphy, Kendra Hammonds and Kyla Kinnard. But no additional points were secured before the half. Bulldogs keeper Kayla Hammonds had one save but otherwise saw little action throughout the game.
The second half opened with a déjà vu moment, with the Bulldogs scoring in the first 30 seconds, this time it was Freshman Sophia Szolosi to the top left corner.
And just moments later, sophomore Quinn Murphy found herself on a breakaway. The crowd held their breath, but Panthers’ goalie Madison Cory boldly came out and met Murphy at the 5-yard line, denying the opportunity.
Cory was showered with shots and racked up several saves. Sophomore Olivia Smart sent a cross central and threaded perfectly through Panther’s traffic.
Moulton found it at the 5-yard line and popped it in, bringing the score to 5-0. The Bulldogs thought they had racked up a 6th goal, but it was recalled following a hand ball foul.
Miami Trace had to move to a defensive stance, keeping nine players in the defense as a way to create a barrier for the Bulldogs. However, Olivia Smart, with a twist and turn, touched the ball to her left foot to shoot and score in the lower right, achieving that 6th goal.
For the seniors, it was a triumphant night, a celebratory last game in Joe Burrow Stadium. Clevenger was elated, relishing her goal in a tournament game.
“It’s crazy. In my whole soccer career, I’ve never scored and it was just the right timing. It means so much to score in this game.”
Coach JT Schroer said, “They played physically. They played smart. It was a good game.”
The Bulldogs match up with Jackson (11-1-2) on Monday night at 6pm.