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Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Arts & Science's Gracie Fogo, left, and East Hamilton's Mia Moore battle for the ball during a soccer match Thursday night at East Hamilton.
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East Hamilton seniors

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After East Hamilton moved the ball with great fluidity and patience in a 6-0 girls' soccer win Thursday over Arts & Sciences, a lockdown senior defender received great praise from her coach.

Four-year starter Jessica Dunavant has been a force while helping the Lady Hurricanes post eight shutouts in 15 matches. That has been after defense spurred the program to the 2018 Class AA state tournament.

"Jessica is fierce on the back line," East Hamilton coach Carrie Hill said of the center back and free-kick specialist. "She is intimidating to other players and sometimes even our own because she is so focused on what she wants to accomplish. There is no nonsense with her.

"She is willing to do whatever it takes for her teammates and will sacrifice whatever she has to. Her play is infectious, and she embodies what we strive to be as a team."

On Thursday's senior night Dunavant also observed a two-year anniversary of a day that brought tough news but did not break her spirit.

"I found out that day I had to have hip surgery, and the first people I told was my team," Dunavant said. "I wouldn't have made the progress I have the past two years without having a team there to push me through it. The strength wasn't really in myself, but the people who support me that had my back."

The Lady Hurricanes (7-6-2) also showed incredible support of injured senior forward Amber Gicker, who was in the lineup for the opening kickoff but was taken off shortly after.

With five goal scorers in the first half, senior Bailey Kilpatrick put the bow on the nondistrict win.

Kilpatrick laced a shot from the top right side of the box to the upper 90 that glanced off the keeper's fingertips for her second goal and the only second-half score. That was in the 68th minute.

"Soccer has helped me be more confident in myself, and to score two goals on senior night meant a lot to me," Kilpatrick said. "My senior teammates have really stepped up a lot this year in a lot of different ways."

With a perfect regular-season record in District 7-AA play, East Hamilton will soon begin another promising postseason run.

Testing its strength throughout the regular season with matches against Baylor, Notre Dame, Signal Mountain and several others, the team looks to pick up where it left off last postseason.

"We go into the playoffs with a chip on our shoulder every year because a lot of people see us as the underdogs," Dunavant said. "We have to come together, stay really positive and make a name for our team and school. It's not just one player — we all have to help this team leave a legacy."

Malia Drumeller, Tenley Yates, Zoey Burgner and Iris Barnes also had goals for the Lady Hurricanes, who also honored senior Stephanie Sedeno at halftime.

Contact Patrick MacCoon at pmaccoon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.

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