The pursuit of glory continues for three local girls' soccer programs that have patiently waited for the TSSAA state tournament to begin.
Getting in extra preparation after rain postponed the tournament a week, Signal Mountain and Girls Preparatory School look to repeat as Class A and Division II-AA champions with East Hamilton hoping to leave its mark in AA.
Due to a handful of early-season injuries combined with a tough schedule, Signal's Lady Eagles overcame a 2-6 start and have won their last nine matches with a 68-6 goal differential. Their attack has been led by senior Camilla Mincey, who leads the area with 29 goals.
"Camilla is not just a scorer but a really good teammate," Signal Mountain coach Richard Northcutt said. "She understands when to shoot and when to lay it off or cross. She plays her role the way it is supposed to be played. Her execution makes everything up front flow really smooth."
Signal Mountain (13-7) kicks off against Madison Magnet (9-7-2) in the state quarterfinals tonight at 7:30 EST at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex in Murfreesboro.
"Every game I come out with the mentality that we are going to score first," said Mincey, who also leads the Lady Eagles in assists. "I say that's my ball and we have to get it in the back of the net. We have fought really hard on the road to state, and I have a lot of talented teammates surrounding me."
Led by a defense that has posted 12 shutouts, East Hamilton will try to lock down its net again and take advantage when chances come its way on the other end.
Mia Moore has made an instant impact on both sides of the field as just an eighth-grader, while senior Jessica Dunavant has been important on the back line. Senior Bailey Kilpatrick and junior Malia Drumeller have been driving forces for the attack and combined for the winning score against Livingston Academy in the sectional round.
The Lady Hurricanes (12-8-2) will face Nolensville (12-3-3) in a quarterfinal today at 5:30.
In a rematch of last year's Division II-AA state final, GPS (17-2) will take on Father Ryan (13-3-3) in Thursday's semifinals at 5:30. The winner will face either Briarcrest Christian (15-1-1) or Knoxville Catholic (12-7) in Friday's 7:30 final.
A dangerous trio of freshman Kennedy Ball (15 goals, 12 assists) and juniors Sydney Morris (17 goals, 11 assists) and Ashley Grant (20 goals, 11 assists) has helped the Bruisers break the school record for goals in a season a second year in a row.
"The great thing about those three is they are all very unselfish players," GPS coach Patrick Winecoff said. "They are all very deadly, too, and can score at any time in several different ways. Ashley is incredibly strong and has good pace, Sydney is super quick and Kennedy is incredibly clever with the ball at her feet. They all complement each other really nicely, and we have created a nice framework for them to operate to their strengths."
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.