Lady Vols don't let up in 11-0 win
There was no question at halftime what the outcome of the first soccer match of the season would be Thursday afternoon for the Starkville Academy Lady Volunteers at the Starkville Sportsplex.
Even though they were up 7-0, the Lady Vols weren't satisfied.
Peyton Allen had a message for her teammates as they gathered under the shade for halftime intermission.
"We may be ahead, but let's keep playing," Allen said. "We don't need to let up."
It wasn't just lip-service from Allen because she put some action behind the talk.
Not long after she was trying to keep her teammates hungry, Allen scored the eighth goal of the match early the second half and Starkville Academy went on to an easy 11-0 victory against Washington School.
Allen was glad to be able to provide some leadership for the Lady Vols with her words and play.
"It's definitely encouraging because you want to keep the team's spirit up," Allen said. "The mental game is the most important. If you can back that up, then you can have a good season.
"We're trying to have a lot of team support because one person can't do it all."
Allen didn't have to worry about it being a one-player show as Sally Kate Richardson scored four goals, Tiffany Huddleston and Taylor Campbell added two goals each, and Jordan Jackson and Katie Dennis chipped in one goal each.
Not a bad result in the first match for Starkville Academy soccer coach Robert Gardner.
"I don't want to say it was a perfect result, but it was a good start for us and the one we needed," Gardner said. "I didn't expect 11 to be honest, but I'm certainly happy with the work we put in.
"The thing I'm happiest about is we stayed organized from what I could see for a good 70 to 80 percent of that match. The 30 percent of the match where I thought we were a little disorganized is stuff we're going to look to fix in the next two training sessions."
The Lady Vols have been going through some rugged preseason training in the heat so the near 100-degree temperatures didn't seem to be as much of a factor for them as it did the Lady Generals.
Gardner put his team through seven one hour and 20 minute fitness sessions. He knows it wasn't easy, but believes it paid off.
"I think I see them all on their feet and they don't seem to be too tired," Gardner said as he observed his players after the match. "We're training at night at a very high level so you are hoping their legs are there. It certainly showed over the 80 minutes (Thursday)."
Richardson's scoring was balanced between halves as she knocked in a pair of goals before halftime and two more in the second half.
She was happy to contribute to a victory.
"The joy of seeing the ball hit the back of the net was amazing," Richardson said. "Not giving up a goal to the other team made it that much better."
Starkville Academy participates in the Collierville (Tenn.) Tournament this weekend.
After playing St. Agnus in an 8:30 p.m. match Friday night, Starkville Academy has an early wake-up call Saturday against St. George's at 9 a.m. and wraps up the event by playing Houston High School at 10 a.m. Sunday.
If there's one thing Gardner wants his team to work on, it's a more fluid movement with the soccer ball.
"There has to be more emphasis on the passing part of it," Gardner said. "Putting it in the general area is nice and as long as we are working to get the ball, we can have a win, but there has to be more of a fluid motion to it."