COLLINSVILLE — A year after finishing runner-up in the 4A state playoffs, West Lauderdale girls soccer coach Alex George has his Lady Knights poised for another deep run.
West Lauderdale polished off a perfect district season Tuesday night, topping Northeast Lauderdale, 4-2, at home. Although the Lady Knights (12-3-2, 6-0) came into the game with first place already sealed away, George said ending the regular season with a win over a rival will help with momentum heading into the playoffs.
“It's a good place to be,” George said. “We are real excited and happy to have made a good run in our district. It's a new season next week, and we are just hoping to make a run and get lucky down the stretch.”
Tied 2-2 in the 67th minute a Northeast hand ball in the box gave West's Clair Campbell a chance to take the lead with a penalty kick. The freshman did not disappoint, rocketing the ball to the left of the Northeast keeper Morgan Davidson and into the back of the net to put the Lady Knights up 3-2. Campbell's goal was the second penalty of the game, as Kaytee Nelson converted one for the Lady Trojans in the first half.
“Those kind of calls, (on penalties) they go either way,” George said. “We needed to get one back late in the game.”
Five minutes later, West's Erin Johnson curled in a free kick from out side of the box past the reach of Davidson to cement the lead at 4-2.
West scored its first two goals off the foot of seventh grader Jada Smith. Smith almost earned a hat-trick later in the second half but was snuffed out by Northeast defenders in the box.
“We have had some younger players step up to the challenge this year,” George said. “That has helped us a lot. She's a real strong, active player up top. That helps us be balanced.”
West Lauderdale will host Magee Tuesday night in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.
“We are finding a way to pull away and get the goals we need,” George said. “That's a good place to be. I think right now they are very poised. It's like they are waiting for the flood gates to open. This team tends to raise it to a whole new level. I'm hoping they do that in the playoffs.”
West Lauderdale boys 5
Northeast Lauderdale 1
Trey McClinton led the Knights with two goals and two assists and was followed by Paxton Cook, Alex Day and Noah Prewitt with a goal apiece.