CLINTON — For the seventh time in the eight times Scott High and Anderson County have faced off since the end of the 2017 regular season, the game was decided by a single goal.
And, this time, it was the Lady Highlanders who wound up on top, as Scott High defeated Anderson County 2-1 on Tuesday, September 15, to snap the Lady Mavs’ two-year winning streak in District 5-AA play.
The last time Anderson County had lost in district play was on September 27, 2018, at Scott High.
The Lady Mavs scored on a penalty kick midway through the first half to take a 1-0 lead, but that was the only goal the Lady Highlanders allowed on the night. Meanwhile, Scott put a pair of goals on the board late in the first half to build a 2-1 halftime lead that would stand until the final whistle.
The game started with Anderson County controlling possession. But after a whistle in the box that gave the Lady Mavs the PK, Scott High began to steal the momentum.
The Lady Highlanders’ first goal came on a shot by Olivia Rector after a throw-in by Chloe Tucker, who “threw the ball as far as Peyton Manning,” Scott High Coach Eric Henry joked after the game.
Minutes later, Julia Butts scored on a header off a corner kick by Rector.
That was the way the score would stand the rest of the way. The second half was all about Scott High’s defense. Anderson County dominated possession down the stretch and had numerous touches in the box, but didn’t get many quality looks at the goal.
“We really played well most of the time tonight,” Henry said. “Allie made the saves that she had to make.”
Henry used some down-time before the start of the game to calm his players’ nerves.
“The girls were a little bit nervous,” he said. “So Allie and Hoffs (assistant coach Ryan Hoffman) and I were playing a little game before the game, just trying to break those nerves down. Abby (Bridges) was a little nervous in the back, but she settled down. They’re afraid of making mistakes but sometimes you gotta worry about what you can do. That’s what I told them at halftime. I told them, ‘Guys, you can only control what the 11 players on the field do. You can’t control the refs, you can’t control the other team, you can’t control the fans.'”
Tuesday’s game was the first game back for Olivia Rector, the Lady Highlanders’ sophomore forward who missed a week with a foot injury.
“She played hard and won some balls up front, and had the assist in the corner,” Henry said.
He also credited the play of two of his seniors, Dara Stanley and Tori Sexton.
“Dara has been wanting to play offense this season but I’ve had to pull her back just to get minutes out of her,” he said. “At halftime she was very unselfish, she said, ‘I need to play defense.’ Shout-out to a senior who makes that kind of call on her own.”
Henry said that Sexton’s senior t-shirt will read “Tori the Tank.”
“It doesn’t matter what happens to Tori, she’s playing,” he said. “She’s probably one of the toughest people I know.”
After the game, the Lady Highlanders celebrated the win, but Henry was careful to remind his team that the regular season is far from finished. Two big district games remain, both at home: Loudon on September 24 and Kingston on September 29.
Anderson County was the favorite to win the district; beating the Lady Mavs gives Scott High the inside track on the regular season district championship and homefield advantage in the postseason tournament. But either one of their remaining district opponents can spoil that, and Kingston has already beaten Scott High once this season.
“The girls played well tonight and I’m proud of their effort. That was a big win,” Henry said. “Now here’s the thing: two years ago, we won out in the district and played at home (and lost the district championship to Anderson County). So my challenge to the girls is to come out with the same tenacity and the same effort they had tonight for the district championship, if we win out. But, now, Kingston is going to have something to say about that.”