HUNTSVILLE — Zoey Terry scored a goal in either half, and for the longest time it looked as though Scott High was going to avenge one of its few regular season losses last year.
But then Cumberland Gap captured the momentum late, scoring two goals in the final five minutes to escape with a 3-2 win.
“I told the girls I was not upset with them, not mad at anybody or anything like that,” Scott High coach Eric Henry said after the game. “The effort was there tonight. It was one of those games we have to learn from.”
Terry scored her first goal a little less than midway through the first half, an almost mirror image of her first goal of the season against Oliver Springs.
“Zoey Terry was a beast tonight,” Henry said. “That was a beautiful first goal.”
The Lady Highlanders generally controlled possession in the first half and had additional looks at the goal that didn’t pan out. The second half saw Cumberland Gap enter with renewed energy and effort, and the Panthers scored a tying goal early to even the game at 1-1.
But then Scott High seemed to recapture the momentum, and Terry scored a back-door goal on a cross from fellow sophomore Chloe Tucker to give the Lady Highlanders the lead back.
“Chloe did exactly what we talked about at halftime,” Henry said. “She took it all the way deep, Zoey stopped herself, settled, and all she had to do was turn her foot. Easy goal.”
Cumberland Gap had an opportunity to tie the game on a whistle in the box. It marked the second consecutive game that saw goalkeeper Allie Bailey called for a penalty while scrambling for a loose ball — both by the same official, and both calls leaving plenty of people scratching their heads.
“For the last two games, Allie Bailey has got PKs called on her and I don’t understand why,” Henry said. “She’s coming out and playing the ball. I don’t understand.”
Cumberland Gap missed the PK, but scored on a later PK after a penalty was committed in the box to tie the game.
At that point, the Panthers had all the momentum, and they scored the game-winning goal moments later.
“I’ve always talked about the forwards having to settle on themselves and touch it into the net. Those two goals in the back were because we didn’t settle ourselves,” Henry said. “When they got the PK, it was because we didn’t settle ourselves. We were frantic. It was like our hair was on fire. We were just kicking and whaling as opposed to just settling and getting the ball out and up.
“I’ve got veteran girls back there,” he added. “They know. It’s just competition. When you’re playing that hard, I understand it. But when you’ve played four years, you should also know, ‘I gotta settle myself.'”
But it wasn’t all on the defense, Henry said; his defenders were winded late because the offense wasn’t sustaining possession on the opposite end.
“We couldn’t maintain prolonged, sustained, effective offense,” he said. “So it’s repeated balls across the half line. When that happens, the defense is gonna make a mistake. That’s the way we play: we try to put the pressure on and let the defense make mistakes.”
Henry credited the play of seniors Julia Butts and Rylee Cotton. Cotton played the game under the weather.
The Lady Highlanders played without two key contributors, sophomores Olivia Rector and Abby Reynolds. Rector is nursing a foot injury and is expected back next week; Reynolds is likely out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
Cumberland Gap will host Oneida next week in a game that will likely be for the regular season District 3-A championship.
“We played hard; we just didn’t play smart when it was really, really important,” Henry said.