As the Lady Tigers continued to prove their dominance on the pitch, the boys solidified themselves as a team to be reckoned with in Region 2-AAAAAA when both teams finished their respective sweeps of Newton on Friday. Here are five notes from the game on Friday.
A Payne in Newton’s...behind
Alcovy freshman midfielder Baylea Payne was fantastic on Friday. Payne dribbled past defenders with swift hesitation moves, a few of which had defenders facing one direction and Payne racing toward the goal in the other.
Although she’s just a freshman, Payne is arguably Alcovy’s best player which she proved with each of her four goals on Friday.
“She’s very impressive,” Anna Hebert, Lady Tigers’ head coach, said
“Baylea had, clearly, a phenomenal game,” Hebert added. “She got four goals and played anywhere I put her. We were really [short-handed]. We had one sub in the first half until McKenzie [Rowland] got hurt, no subs in the second half so Baylea really stepped up. She was more of a utility player, trying to help the whole team. She did a great job.”
Payne played multiple positions, and was impeccable on offense and defense. She was all over the field and she’s a leader for the Lady Tigers. When she wasn’t scoring, which wasn’t often, she was directing her teammates on where to be and when to make certain runs or cuts.
Payne is best at the top but she can play anywhere and Hebert and the Lady Tigers are going to be good for a long time with Payne on the team.
More freshmen than seniors
Payne is an outstanding player, but fortunately for Alcovy, she’s not the only exceptional freshmen on the roster. Alcovy has the perfect balance of freshmen and upperclassmen. The Lady Tigers have eight freshmen and nine sophomores, juniors and seniors combined.
Six of the Lady Tigers’ freshmen started against Alcovy on Friday: Daphne Ramirez (goalkeeper), Anna Smith (midfielder), Kiersten Sullivan (defender), Ryleigh Langford (defender), Sydney Ziglar (forward) and of course Payne (midfielder/forward).
“Sidney Ziglar is very talented,” Hebert said.
“I think one thing that sets them (Payne and Ziglar) a part is they’re all pretty selfless. They want to play as a team. I have to encourage them to be selfish and possess the ball,” Hebert added proudly.
The Lady Tigers currently have the second-best record in the region and they're only going to get better.
A diamond in the ruff
Newton’s boys didn’t manage to beat Alcovy, but the Rams may have found themselves a new goalkeeper in Nehemuh Gordon, who Newton coach Sam Noland pulled up from JV.
Gordon played great despite the 2-1 loss. One of the goals that he “gave up” was an own goal by one of his teammates. Gordon managed to stop an onslaught of shots from Alcovy, especially in the second half. Gordon’s shining moment probably came after he dived and missed a shot from Alcovy’s Camani Smith that hit the post and bounced back into play when Alex Morales went for the goal, but Gordon recovered and stopped the shot.
“I wish we could have put a couple in, but their keeper played an excellent second half. He had some nice saves,” Chris Edgar, Alcovy head coach, said.
“Our keeper was our JV keeper and we gave up two mistakes,” Noland said. “We didn’t capitalize on some other opportunities so it’s just one of those games.”
While Newton’s goalkeeper, Gordon, was great, they’re defensive third wasn’t as impressive as Alcovy’s.
“They were solid tonight,” Edgar said. “They kept [Newton’s] speed in check. They kept things in front of them.”
When Alcovy couldn’t keep Newton’s speed in check or they managed to get behind them, the Tigers recovered and either made a timely tackle/steal or kicked the ball out of bounds to allow the defense to recover and get set.
Newton wasn’t able to penetrate and get inside the box much, if any, and that was a credit to the Tigers’ defensive third.
Alcovy’s vocal leader
A big reason for Alcovy’s defensive success was senior leader Daniel Mejia.
Mejia was very vocal in Friday’s game. He was constantly yelling at his teammates when to get up the field, when to run and where to be.
“I think Daniel, he did a great job back there of commanding and they did a good job of listening. And getting the danger out of there,” Edgar said.
Edgar praised Daniel’s leadership throughout the season and said his unselfishness and versatility are a big reason why Alcovy is 4-4 in region play.
“He can play at the next level if he gets that opportunity,” Edgar said.
“He is a leader. He’s a captain for a reason. He knows the game. He’s played the game for a long time and he’s unselfish,” Edgar said. “Earlier in the year he was up top and as we were struggling I said, ‘Daniel, I gotta have you in the back.” And he did not say anything but, ‘Yes sir.’ He got back there and he was a leader. I’m happy for him.”