Macy Dunlap scored a goal off an assist by Emalea Sexton, Alexea Jones scored an unassisted goal, and Alea Jones came up with 16 saves in front of the net, as Oneida defeated its soccer rival Cumberland Gap 2-1 at Jane Terry Hoffman Field on Thursday to claim the District 3-A championship.
The Lady Indians were out-shot by the Panthers, 17-15, but were able to find the net when it mattered most to earn their third consecutive district championship. All three championships have come with wins over Cumberland Gap.
The game was a physical one, according to Oneida head coach Phil Newport. The Lady Indians, who have battled injuries throughout the season, lost Caroline Bell to an ankle injury. Her status wasn’t immediately clear.
Newport said his team had one breakdown on defense, allowing Cumberland Gap’s only goal, but otherwise played “stellar” defense.
“I’m very proud of the effort and there was plenty of praise to go around,” Newport said. “Macy was being hammered but never got a call and I think Alexea has really come on great. She did a fabulous job of working the middle of the field.”
Newport said his team’s strength of schedule helped the Lady Indians prepare for Thursday’s game against the Panthers, who entered with a record of 13-2.
“We are remarkably resilient so far,” Newport said. “I’m not too sure folks thought we could pull this off again. I love the way my kids keep getting up and have grown with each. I know they have been making me proud to be their coach.”
Oneida will host Polk County in Tuesday’s Region 2-A semifinal. The two teams have met in the last two region championship games — with Polk County winning last year and Oneida winning in 2017, both times by a single goal — but the Wildcats were beaten by Greenback in Thursday’s District 4-A championship game, a game that was decided by sudden death penalty kicks.
Polk County will enter Tuesday’s game with a record of 7-5-3. Oneida is 11-2-1.
If the Lady Indians can pick up a win on Tuesday, they will host the region championship game on Thursday, which would likely be against the same Cumberland Gap team they faced this week.