Kennedy Ball may be just a sophomore, but the GPS soccer standout's first goal against Notre Dame in Monday's season opener was another sign of how advanced the third-year starter already is on the pitch.
Ball's strong start helped lift the Bruisers to a 5-0 home victory over Notre Dame.
In the 11th minute, GPS freshman Nyla Blue, from the defensive side of midfield, sent a perfect lead pass over the top that only her teammate and the Notre Dame keeper could reach. Ball flew to the ball and sent a chip shot over the keeper that took one bounce, then hit the back of the net.
"I told one of our assistant coaches that's the type of goal in girls' high school soccer that you don't see a lot of," Bruisers coach Patrick Winecoff said. "It takes a great amount of control to lift that shot up and over like she did. Kennedy scores weird and great goals like that in practice all the time. It's just the way she is."
Ball fired a left-footed shot from more than 20 yards out to the back right of the net in the 15th minute for a 2-0 lead. GPS secured even more momentum with a nice penalty kick save by senior Kaedra Thorstenson in the 24th minute.
Notre Dame flashed its potential but could not keep up with the Division II-AA power, which finished 17-3 last season and made a run to the state semifinals. Lady Fighting Irish keeper Gracen Brewster turned away three strong shots on goal in a three-minute span in the second half.
The Bruisers return all-state caliber standouts in Ashley Grant and Sydney Morris, who connected for the third. The powerful Grant scored twice, while Sasha Carbone had one assist in the victory.
Heritage 8, LaFayette 0: Two-time Best of Preps Scrappy Moore Female Athlete of the Year Rachel Gibson made her 2020 season debut with two innings pitched, three hits allowed and five strikeouts as the Generals moved to 2-0. Brinley Horner completed the shutout with two innings of two-hit relief. Madeline Stone was 2-for-3, both doubles, with two RBIs, with Carmen Gayler adding a pair of hits, two RBIs and two runs scored.
Coahulla Creek 8, Dalton 0: The Lady Colts improved to 6-0 as ace Sophia Voyles had another dominating outing with a complete-game, one-hit, 16-strikeout performance. She also had two hits, drove in two runs and scored once, while McKinley Staten was 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs, Emma Snyder added two hits and an RBI scored and Jillian Poe drove in two runs.
Mount Paran Christian 7, Trion 2: The Lady Bulldogs fell for the first time in four games to start the season despite two hits each from Bailey Smith and Jenna Mosley and an RBI each from Asia Lanham and Linzie Thompson.
Dade County 9, Christian Heritage 6: The Lady Wolverines (4-1) rallied from a 5-2 deficit with five runs in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth. Michaela Massey was 4-for-4 with three RBIs and Alyssa Wilson had two hits, including a two-run single in the fifth. Kaitlyn Stinnett had two hits, including a two-run triple in the sixth, with Kami Counts and Ali Thompson each adding two hits.
Southeast Whitfield 8, Gordon Central 4: The Lady Raiders won their first game of the season led by Kaylee Taylor's two hits and three RBIs. Madison Powell, Megan Towe and Lauren Taylor had two hits each, while Brooke Taylor drove in a pair of runs for the winners.
Sequatchie County swept South Pittsburg 25-5, 25-12 and 25-17 in a season opener. The Lady Indians were impressive on the road as Cali Green had eight kills and four blocks, while Jayla Johnston had eight aces and eight assists.
Compiled by Patrick MacCoon and Lindsey Young. Contact Young at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @youngsports22. Contact MacCoon at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.