Watauga's girls' soccer team blanks Hickory
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Watauga's defense came through again in a 1-0 victory over Hickory in a key Northwestern Conference girls' soccer game Friday night at Jack Groce Stadium.
The Pioneers (8-0-2 overall, 4-0 NWC) stayed in first place in the NWC after getting back-to-back wins in two days. Watauga also beat Patton 3-0 on the road Thursday.
Defense has played a key role in keeping Watauga unbeaten. Watauga has allowed just one goal in four NWC games, and just two goals all season.
The Pioneers have outscored their last three opponents 9-1.
"It was a true battle," Pioneers coach Brittany Bolick said. "It's always fun to watch those games and to play in those games. Don't necessarily enjoy coaching in those games because it's a little bit hectic, but I loved what I saw from my girls tonight."
Watauga got all the scoring it needed in the first half. Kass Alvarez took a corner kick from Brynne Gould, and her shot from about eight yards in front of the goal found the back of the net with 32 minutes left in the first half.
"It was a great possession cross by Brynne and it was a beautiful ball coming in," Bolick said. "Kass just found a way. (Thursday night) she had a beautiful goal and she found a way. She stepped forward, played it inside her foot and put it right to the back post again."
It gave the Pioneers a 1-0 lead that Hickory (6-3, 2-2) could not answer, although it's not like the Red Tornadoes didn't try. Watauga goal keeper Heather Ostwalt had a diving save with 19 minutes left in the first half to send the Pioneers in front 1-0 at halftime.
Ostwalt made another big save on a Hickory shot with 7:45 left in the game.
Both teams spent the rest of the game between the two 18-yard boxes on both sides of the field.
"I'm really impressed with the job Brittany's done with them," said Hickory coach Brian Jillings, who was a Watauga assistant to Doug Kidd when Bolick played with the Pioneers. "I thought (Abby Carson) was a fantastic player for them coming out of the back for them and eliminating any chances that we had. We let one slip on the back side, but other than that, we played them pretty even."
"It was one of those games where if whoever could score first could hang on," Bolick said. "We were able to hold on."
The only downer in the game occurred with 6:45 left in the second half when Kat Welsh went down to a knee injury. She was helped off the field and ice was placed on the injury.
Bolick was hopeful that Welsh's injury is not serious.
"Right now, it's really touch and go," Bolick said. "She really went down hard. I'm hoping that it scared her more than anything. We really don't know what happened, but it looked really good when they did the ACL test on her and it looked like it was strong and in place."
Bolick, who is already missing India Roseman because of an injured ankle, does not want to miss Welsh either.
"It would be a huge loss for us," Bolick said. "We're missing India already. If we lost Kat, it would be a big loss to our team. The Lord has a plan and if that's in His will and in His plan, then we're going to find a way to get it done."
Watauga, which has won five straight games, beat Hickory for the first time since 2011. The Pioneers host McDowell on Monday, and play at South Caldwell on Tuesday.
McDowell (0-5-1) is struggling to score goals this season. The Titans have scored just one goal in the six games they've played.
McDowell also broke a six-game winless streak with a 1-1 tie at home against North Buncombe on March 24. Watauga beat McDowell 4-0 in Marion on March 4.
South Caldwell goes into its game with Watauga with a 7-5 overall record, 1-3 in the NWC. The Spartans have lost two straight, but beat Freedom 1-0 on March 21.
WHS JVs 3, HICKORY 1
Sarah Patton scored two goals to lead Watauga's junior varsity girls' soccer team to a 3-1 victory over visiting Hickory at Jack Groce Stadium Friday.
Patton's first goal, scored at the 19th minute of the first half. Gracee Kleeberger added a goal in the 25th minute. Patton scored again at the 32nd minute.
WHS VARSITY 3, PATTON 0
MORGANTON -- Three different Watauga players scored goals in the Pioneers' 3-0 win at Patton Thursday.
Kass Alvarez scored first on an assist from Kat Welsh to give the Pioneers a 1-0 lead. Tori Derrick scored next on an assist from Sierra Hill, which gave Watauga a 2-0 halftime lead.
Emily Goodnight added a third goal in the final minute of the game.
Watauga's junior varsity claimed a 6-0 lead. Finley Collins, Megan Gofffried, Maddie Warren,Sarah Patton and Elena Russert all scored goals for the Pioneers.