Indy’s Ladies Soccer Team Advances To The Sweet Sixteen

Watauga's Janie Soucek (15) attempts to prevent Indy's Sam Swinson (7) from taking a shot in Wednesday’s round two game at Boone.
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MINT HILL, NC – Independence’s 9th-seeded girl’s soccer team began climbing its way up the 4A-West championship playoffs Monday night when the Lady Patriots opened play in the state playoffs with a 3-0 victory over visiting Ragsdale.Coach Andrew Skimko said, “When we came out we were pretty nervous. We missed a lot of passes and couldn’t get any shots on frame.  At halftime we reset everybody. The players had their goal and in the second half we came out much better.  We connected passes, charged for everything, and were just able to play our game a little bit better.  We got our nerves worked out in the first half and our players made sure we won the game.”Senior Aleisha Lamb scored two of Indy’s three goals.  On her first score, the senior made three hard runs down the left sideline, but her shots were a little off.  On her third run, she said,  “I cut and just hoped for the best.  I kicked it and had no idea it would go over, but it went in.”  The goal gave the Lady Patriots the lead 1-0 with 15 minutes left to play in the game.

Sydney Malenfant (3) goes for a header while being defended by a Watauga defender.

Lamb’s second goal came with 5:30 showing on the clock.  Lamb had cut across the field and received a pass at mid-field and took the shot for a 2-0 lead. The Lady Patriots’ final score came with 0:31 left in the game.  Samantha Swinson picked up a foul and received a twelve-yard penalty kick. She said, “I practice those shots every day at warm-ups.  So it was kinda like getting everything out of my head and using muscle memory and hitting it like I do every day at practice.  My instincts were right, and I happily made it.”  Her shot ended up in the lower-left corner of the goal giving Indy a 3-0 first-round win.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Lady Patriots stepped up their defense and held the Ragsdale Tigers scorelessly.  The loss ended the Tigers’ season and allowed the Lady Patriots to advance to the second round of the state’s playoffs.

On Wednesday night

The Independence Lady Patriots’ soccer team made the trip to Boone, North Carolina to take on the 8th-seeded Watauga Pioneers in the second round of the state soccer playoffs.

In the first half, Watauga scored at the 38:05 mark to take a 1-0 lead.  After the early goal, the Lady Patriots used a constant attack on the goal and pressure defense to hold the Pioneers to only one goal on the night. Coach Andrew Skimko said, “That was a formidable back and forth game.  It started off a little rough and we weren’t ready to play on this turf field, but after we got the hang of it, we really took over the game.  It was pretty much one way traffic, especially in the second half and most of the overtimes.” “We just kept hitting our shots straight at the Pioneers’ goalie. So it was easy saves for her to make.  We had chance after chance. It was like she knew what was coming and we just couldn’t make that goal.  The game went to PK shoot-out.  Caroline Wehr is just a formidable goalie.  She is unreal.  I knew my girls were going to score to help us win.” Again in the second half,  the Lady Patriots had several scoring opportunities but were unable to get the ball into the goal.  After Abby Stengel went down on a questionable no-call from the field referee, she had to leave the game with a knee injury.

With 13:27 remaining Indy’s Sam Swinson scored on an assist from Jordyn Lamb to make the score 1-1.  After time ran out with the score still tied, the game moved into a ten-minute overtime period.  After that period ended, the game was still tied and another ten-minute overtime period was played.  Again the score was still tied and a five-minute sudden-death period was played during which neither team scored which moved the game into a penalty kick shoot out. The shoot-out went eight rounds before Indy’s Maddie Fowler kicked the winning goal for the Lady Patriots. During the shootout, Indy’s goalkeeper Caroline Wehr made two great saves to keep the shootout going.  Caroline said, “It was just adrenaline. They had a huge student section that was really loud.  It made me want to prove that we are not just Independence but are Independence from Charlotte and we are here to go to round three and we are going to round three,  I’m trying to get all the way I can and make history for Independence.”Maddie Fowler was Indy’s 8th-round kicker.  In that 8th round, Indy’s Maddie Fowler set the ball up stepped back and as soon as the referee’s whistle sounded, Maddie kicked the ball past the Watauga goalkeeper into the right side of the goal to give the win to the Lady Patriots and a trip to round three and the Sweet Sixteen.  After the game, Maddie said,  “I was confident.  I thought I was going to make it.” After making the shot Maddie said that she was “really happy and wanted to go celebrate with my teammates.”

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