With hopes for another state tournament appearance and a second TSSAA Division II-AA title in three years, the GPS soccer team has wasted no time getting off to an undefeated and lightning-fast start this season, outscoring Notre Dame, Hendersonville and Bearden a combined 13-1.
The Bruisers picked up two of those wins Saturday at home with standout play from senior Ashley Grant, beating Hendersonville 5-0 before topping Bearden 3-1.
Just 20 seconds into the second match, Grant sent a strong cross from the left sideline to Kennedy Ball for a quick score. Grant - who was coming off a hat trick against Hendersonville, with all three of her goals assisted by Ball - scored the final two goals against Bearden. Grant also assisted on Ball's goal against Hendersonville, with Nyla Blue providing the other score in that match.
Senior goalkeeper Kaedra Thorstensen and back-line player Allie Williams have excelled defensively for the experienced Bruisers.
"We have been able to generate a lot of offense against some really quality teams so far," GPS coach Patrick Winecoff said. "We have a good amount of continuity from last year, even though we lost Alex Magill and Meg Priest. A lot of girls are in similar positions, and they've been clicking even faster than seasons in the past. I am excited for them."
The Bruisers have a tough week ahead as they travel to take on Hardin Valley on Tuesday and host Maryville at 2 p.m. Saturday. Those two opponents had a combined record of 30-7-8 last year.
Grant, who has committed to Wofford, has seven goals and three assists already.
"Ashley is just a force on the field," Winecoff said. "She always works hard on the field and wants to do well for herself and teammates. She is very fit and has been leaving our training sessions and doing another two-hour session with an individual trainer. She hasn't been messing around and is ready to go.
"She has been excited about this since the end of last year. She loves getting on the field and playing ball. Her effort is great."
Baylor's Mae Mae Powe and Helen Webb started the season strong with 2-mile times of 12 minutes, 30 seconds and 12:59, respectively, as the Lady Red Raiders won a head-to-head meet with Chattanooga Christian School on Saturday. Ellie Myers finished in third for Baylor at 14:18, while fourth-place Holly Jennings' 14:29 was the fastest time for the visiting Lady Chargers.
In Mill Creek's tournament played at Buford High School due to wet fields, Heritage split a pair of games Saturday, beating Mill Creek 2-1 and losing 11-6 to Buford.
Senior ace Rachel Gibson pitched a two-hitter with nine strikeouts and no walks against Mill Creek, Carmen Gayler's fifth-inning homer provided both runs to back her and Savannah Wilson added two hits for Heritage.
Heritage and Buford were tied at 6 after five innings, but the Lady Wolves scored five runs in the sixth to hand the Generals their first loss of the season in six games. Bailey Davis and Sarah Haynes drove in two runs each, with Bailey Christol and Riley KoKinda adding two hits and scoring two runs apiece.
CCS 3, Boyd Buchanan 0: Emily Day had 31 assists and 11 digs, while AJ Johnson was steady again with 15 kills and Lauren Kay had 13 digs and three aces for the host Lady Chargers in Saturday's sweep, 25-9, 25-15, 25-18. Boyd Buchanan's Cali Sandhoff had eight kills and as many assists.
Lookout Valley 3, South Pittsburg 0: Molly Mauldin had 14 assists and Abby Reed nine, Paige Smith landed 10 kills, Ansley McBryar totaled 15 digs and Jadon Breneman served seven aces as Lookout Valley improved to 2-1 overall and in District 5-A on Friday. The Lady Yellow Jackets closed strong with a 26-24 victory after 25-12 and 25-13 set scores.