ATHENS, Tenn. - McMinn County girls' soccer coach Brittany Hart couldn't quite pinpoint what the issue was, but she knew something just wasn't quite right with her team Tuesday evening. And being just a little off cost them in the end.
Morgan McCormick's goal in the 103rd minute gave Warrren County a 1-0 golden-goal victory over the Lady Cherokees in the Region 3-AAA semifinals. The Lady Pioneers (16-4) will take on District 6 rival Cookeville, which defeated Cleveland 1-0, in Thursday's championship match at Cookeville.
McMinn ended its season with a 13-3-4 record and its first district championship since 2005. The Lady Cherokees looked dominant at times Tuesday, controlling possession and outshooting Warren County 8-5 -- including a BreAnna Gable attempt that was saved by Warren County's Jessie Newby and a shot in the second overtime by Arielle Hansford that had Newby beat but glanced off the side post and angled right back at the Lady Pioneers keeper.
"It's hard to correct whatever was wrong with us when we had our best 11 players on the field," Hart said. "Maybe it was our desire; maybe we were uptight; but the bottom line is that we didn't combine well, and didn't play good soccer.
"I'm not mad at them -- we had a great season -- but when you lack the ability to score, it makes things harder."
Warren coach Todd Willmore played only 11 players for the entirety of the match, as he had a player sick and two others who didn't make the trip from McMinnville. The Lady Pioneers changed their formation, dropping more athletic players into the defense to combat McMinn's attack, and snuffed out a series of chances that the Lady Cherokees had throughout.
McCormick's goal on a Ansley Mullican corner kick got the Lady Pioneers to their second consecutive region final.
"We were prepared for them," Willmore said. "We knew we'd have to play a defensive game because they'd come at us, but I thought we played well and took advantage of a chance when we got it."
• Cookeville 1, Cleveland 0: At Cookeville, Paige Beaulieu's second-half goal gave the Lady Cavaliers (16-3-2) a shot to host the region championship match. Cleveland wound up 11-9-1.
Contact Gene Henley at email@example.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.