published Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Lady Trojans scoring, limiting goals

REGION SOCCER SCHEDULE

Today

Region 3-A/AA:

Grace Academy (9-4-3) at East Hamilton (14-3-1), 4:30

Arts & Sciences (9-9-1) at McMinn Central (15-3), 5

Region 4-A/AA:

Smith County (17-3-1) at Notre Dame (8-2-5), 6

Chattanooga Christian (12-3-4) at Central Magnet (11-4), 6

Region 3-AAA:

Ooltewah (8-7-2) at Warren County (14-6-1), 6

Coffee County (14-5-1) at Soddy-Daisy (15-2-3), 7

Scoring has not been an issue for the Soddy-Daisy girls' soccer team, especially in recent years. Even as players were injured during the 2012 season, the Lady Trojans found ways to put shots in the net.

The biggest change -- and it's been an ongoing process -- has been their ability to prevent opponents from doing the same. A big part of that was adjusting to a "Flat 4" defensive set, which takes out the sweeper and stopper.

Soddy-Daisy, 15-2-3 and ranked 11th in the state, goes into tonight's Region 3-AAA semifinal clash against visiting Coffee County with 68 goals in 20 matches, which is one goal more than the Lady Trojans' pace last season on their way to the state semifinals. They've allowed 27, which is nine more than they allowed all of last season, but they gave up 10 in their first four matches as coach Moises Drumond and assistant Zac Dolberry mixed and matched different lineups to try to find the right combination.

Since then -- a span of 16 games -- the team has allowed 17, with seven shutouts.

"I've been pleased with how the defense has played since the start," Drumond said. "They had to learn the flat 4 system and the way it was run. We weren't sure if there were going to be issues in the back coming into the season, but they've really been good for us."

While the defense adjusted, the offense flourished, regardless of who was in. Reigning Times Free Press player of the year Summer Lanter missed five matches with a knee injury, but players such as Miranda Smith and Megan Weller stepped up with timely goals in key moments. Midfielder Natalie Smith, who has committed to play collegiately for Austin Peay, said it took a while to figure out the tendencies of her teammates in Lanter's absence, but that things flowed smoothly once they did.

"The Oak Ridge game was rough because Summer got hurt, and she hardly ever gets hurt," she said. "Then Jenna [Millsaps] and Alyssa [Scarpelli] also got hurt at the end of the same game.

"It was a setback, but I thought that we all stepped up together."

The team needed overtimes for district wins over McMinn County and Cleveland, and in the meanwhile, Lanter paced the sideline as a spectator, admitting it was "very stressful."

Since her return four matches ago, the team has scored 25 goals. In their last three matches, they've won by a combined 20-2 margin.

"The goal this year is the same as it is any other year," Lanter said. "We want to make it to state and win state. Coach told us that we have six more matches this season, and we're going to do our best to try to win them all."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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