The Meridian Star
Haley Hutcherson stepped up with two key goals for the Clarkdale girls soccer team, as they earned a 4-1 win on the road against Northeast Lauderdale Tuesday night.
Hutcherson’s first goal caused an uproar on the Lady Trojan sideline, as Northeast goalie Morgan Davidson appeared to make a diving stop to prevent the ball from crossing the goal line. Davidson’s efforts were for not, however, as the referee ruled the ball crossed the line before she could clear it, giving the Lady Bulldogs an early 1-0 lead eight minutes into the game.
Ten minutes later, Hutherson would burry the Lady Trojans in a hole they wouldn’t be able to escape, knocking in a header off of a corner kick to give Clarkdale a commanding 2-0 lead.
“Hutch is a very smart player,” Clarkdale girls soccer coach Lea Castleberry said. “I feel fortunate to have several talented young players. We hung with some big dogs tonight.”
Eighth grader Ashley McCloud had a stellar performance in net for the Lady Bulldogs, stopping Northeast forward Keke Cole on a breakaway shot in the 37th minute.
Cole got the best of McCloud later in the first half, beating three Lady Bulldogs on her way to the net to cut the lead to 2-1 at halftime. However, the young keeper would have the final laugh, stuffing Cole on a penalty kick to preserve a 3-1 lead for Clarkdale in the second half.
“That’s big, because she is an eighth grader,” Castleberry said. “Our starting goalkeeper had to play the field tonight. She did a good job stepping up tonight.”
Skylar Jones also had a big night for the Lady Bulldogs as well, accounting for both of Clarkdale’s second-half goals.
Both teams dealt with injuries in what was a very physical game for all 80 minutes. Northeast’s Kaytee Nelson went down with an ankle injury and Tori Griffith was carried off the field with a rib injury. Nelson is expected to play Tuesday night against West Lauderdale, while Griffith’s status in unknown.
“It was very physical,” Castleberry said. “I just think everybody wanted to win, and everybody was playing their hardest. You have to give it to both teams. Everyone was playing their hardest.”
Clarkdale boys 4
Northeast Lauderdale 2
The Clarkdale boys completed the sweep later in the night, taking down the Trojans 4-2.
The Bulldogs took momentum early, as Colby Winham scored in the 27th minute to give Clarkdale a 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs did not let up from there, adding a goal from Jack Christopher in stoppage time, as the freshman made it 2-0 as he knocked in the ball off a corner kick.
Northeast rallied back in the second half as Jake Perry knocked in a goal off the far post to cut the lead to 2-1 in the 52nd minute. However, Reggie Pech stole momentum right back for Clarkdale 17 minutes later, scoring off a cross in the box to give the Bulldogs a comfortable two-goal lead.
“We knew it was going to be a close game,” Clarkdale boys soccer coach Steve Dennis said. “We knew Northeast was going to be a good team. When we made that third goal, it gave us a lot of wind and put a lot of wind in our sails.”
Northeast’s Christian Roberts would once again trim the lead to one goal, scoring in late in the second half. However, Northeast Lauderdale head coach Jermaine McAlpine elected not to risk injuring his starters in a non-district game and put in his junior varsity squad with 13 minutes remaining. To their credit, the JV Trojans hung with the Bulldogs to close out the game, running with Clarkdale before allowing a goal in stoppage.
“They played well,” McAlpine said of the JV team. “If they were a little bigger and stronger, I think they would have put a few goal in.”
Clarkdale will host Sacred Heart on Thursday, while Northeast travels to West Lauderdale on Tuesday.