It was a Senior Night to remember for the Lady Seminoles varsity soccer team Tuesday, as Salem routed rival Newton County 8-1 in its final regular season contest.
Salem netted six goals in the opening period of the non-region contest, but it was junior Hannah Watkins that shined the brightest on a night meant for the senior class, leading the way with four goals in the win.
Watkins scored three goals in the first half before adding an insurance goal in the fourth and senior Bria Mosley, who will continue her soccer career next year at Western Kentucky, added a pair of goals and two assists.
Newton’s lone goal came with 22:56 left on the clock in the first half as Salem shutout the Lady Rams over the final 60 minutes of play.
“It feels good to get a win on Senior Night and you have to be happy with how the girls played,” Salem coach Andre Johnson said. “A lot of the girls have been here four or five years, so it was vital that we got a win tonight. The girls really wanted to do a great job for the seniors tonight and they were able to channel it today.”
Watkins’s three first-half scores came in a blink of an eye as the junior helped Salem build a 4-0 lead in the opening 12 minutes of play. With just over six minutes gone in the contest Watkins found the back of the net for the first time, going one-on-one with Newton’s Cheyenne Walsingham in goal after receiving the ball found an inbounds pass from the left sideline.
Watkins won the battle, pushing her shot just past Walsingham’s reach, and then scored just two minutes later, this time on a feed from Mosley. Mosley won the ball after a Newton kickoff and dribbled down the left sideline unabated, finding Watkins inside the penalty box. Watkins took the pass and used one touch to redirect her shot, extending Salem’s advantage.
With 28:28 remaining in the half, Watkins extending Salem’s lead again, this time capitalizing on a Newton miscue. The Lady Rams lost control of the ball near midfield and Salem’s defense booted the ball up the field near Watkins. Watkins battled to get a clean touch on the ball while pushing it up field, finally turning and connected cleanly on a shot deep inside of Newton territory.
Ashley Mancusco added a goal from nearly 30 yards out between Watkins’ scores, giving Salem a 4-0 advantage after 12 minutes of play.
Newton trimmed the Lady Seminoles’ lead to 4-1 six minutes later, finding an opportunistic scoring chance after Salem’s defense failed to clear the ball after a goal kick.
Salem’s defensive unit couldn’t get the ball out of Lady Seminole territory and Newton’s offense gathered the ball. The ball eventually made its way to the feet of Lacey Brackett. Brackett gathered the loose ball, dribbled through Salem’s defense and placed a shot to the left of the keeper, bringing Newton to within three of the Lady Seminoles.
Newton was unable to capitalize on the momentum shift, as Salem’s Ellie Thompson and Mosley added scores before the half. Thompson pushed Salem’s lead to 5-1 on a follow-up scoring opportunity and Mosley walked the ball into the goal on a feed from Kajah Newton just before the half, giving Salem a 6-1 advantage at halftime.
Watkins added her fourth goal 10 minutes into the second half on a cross from Chanci Roseberry and Mosley capped off the night’s scoring with 18:46 to go in the contest after Thompson found the senior open in the middle of the defense. Mosley dribbled, controlled the pass and hit her mark, sealing the 9-1 victory for the Lady Seminoles.
Newton forced just one shot on goal in the second half while Walsingham finished with eight saves, including six in the second half.
“The dynamic of this game was totally different than last week against Morrow,” Newton coach David Alexander said. “We’re hoping to put this one behind us as quick as we can with a region game against Rockdale coming up Wednesday. We have to get our minds wrapped around that and be prepared to face them.”
Between the girls and boys contests the Seminoles honored seniors Caree’ Atkins, Tyler McEwan, Kevin Miranda, Phil Pierrepoint, Rico Pope, Jermaine Sumter, Will Thomas, Grant Vojnich, Josh West, Chelsea Booker, Paige Forte’, Alexas Melhado, Bria Mosley, Sydney Youngblood, Kristina Campana and Meredith Gerard.