Walker Valley had won eight consecutive girls' soccer matches before falling 3-2 to McMinn County in last week's District 5-AAA championship game. Facing elimination Tuesday in a Region 3-AAA semifinal at Soddy-Daisy, junior forward Ashley Eulo knocked in two goals, including a late game-winner that kept the Lady Mustangs' season alive.
"I'm so happy to be able to make a big impact for my team. We all work so hard, so it's an awesome feeling that I could come through for them," Eulo said after Walker Valley's 2-1 win. "We were on such a roll before the McMinn game, but we knew that loss happened for a reason, and a win like this is the reason."
After Walker Valley saw a wide-open chance go right off the top crossbar, Eulo made amends by scoring the game's first goal on a breakaway. After being played a through ball, Eulo outran a Lady Trojans defender and calmly booted home the score from the right side of the box to the bottom left corner of the goal.
The Walker Valley lead held until the 57th minute, when Soddy-Daisy's Lizbeth Mendez had the ball fall to her feet near the middle of the Lady Mustangs' box and scored in the bottom right corner for the equalizer.
Walker Valley's strategy of playing five defenders continued inviting pressure from the Lady Trojans as both teams fought for the lead late.
Despite a few good chances for Soddy-Daisy to take its first lead, Walker Valley worked the ball to the Lady Trojans' box and found Eulo's foot in the middle of a scrum for the game-winning goal.
"Yesterday in practice we actually planned to play into our forwards' feet in the box, and it worked right there," Walker Valley coach Nat Brown said. "I told the girls from the start that the game wasn't going to be about talent, it was going to be about heart, and our ladies put literally everything out there."
Walker Valley earned its 14th win of the season, a Region 3-AAA title shot and a state sectional spot, while Soddy-Daisy ended with a 10-9 record and a District 6-AAA championship to show for the season.
"We played our best tonight. The truth is we had a great postseason," Soddy-Daisy coach Moises Drumond said. "We had a great team talk before the postseason and worked on some things we probably should've worked on earlier. We had a good showing tonight. It just wasn't enough for us."
Contact John Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.