The Notre Dame girls' soccer team's approach to Tuesday's big district match was simple: Apply what you've practiced to the games.
In the past few practices the Lady Irish worked a lot on shooting, and against Signal Mountain they shot a lot as well. And eventually, they enjoyed some results.
Sofia Olenchek had a goal and an assist and the Lady Irish clinched the 7-A/AA regular-season title with a 3-0 victory over the Lady Eagles at Signal Mountain. With both teams tying Chattanooga Christian in recent matches, a tie would have forced a three-way coin flip to determine the champion.
It wasn't until the second half that the Lady Irish (3-5-3, 1-0-1) got on the board, on their fourth actual shot on goal. That was when Mackenzie Nadeau's shot angled past Signal keeper Natalie McCarter in the 43rd minute, and about five minutes later, Emma Higgins scored for a 2-0 edge.
"All we've worked on lately is shooting," Notre Dame coach Jim Schermerhorn said. "I think we were too anxious in the first half, and we were giving the ball away too easily. We settled down more as the match went on and got the win.
"Tonight's a huge win -- it's always good to be No. 1 in this district going into the playoffs."
The two quick goals seemed to loosen up the Lady Irish, who proceeded to fire from all angles the rest of the match. They also seemed to deflate the Lady Eagles (3-5-4, 0-1-1), who start only one upperclassman -- a junior. The other 10 starters range from eighth-graders to sophomores.
"We keep getting better. Every time we go out there, we can see things we need to work on," Signal coach Richard Northcutt said. "We're not very aggressive yet, but we're starting to string some passes together and we're competing."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.