High School

Final Four: Lady Devils Shake Off Early Scare To Take Down Dyersburg

Final Four: Lady Devils Shake Off Early Scare To Take Down Dyersburg
Written by 
Tate Russell
October 27, 2022

CHATTANOOGA – The Class AA State Tournament could not have gotten off to a more grim start for the Greeneville soccer team, but the Lady Devils quickly regrouped to keep their season going.

In Wednesday’s opening minute Dyersburg got loose for a quick goal, but Greeneville was just as quick to answer before taking control the rest of the way for a 4-1 win in the state quarterfinals at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga.

“It’s nerve wracking at this level, but it feels really good to get the win and to get to keep playing,” Greeneville senior midfielder Annemarie Konieczny said. “We knew the draw was exactly like last year, and now things have broken down the same way. So now all we can be thinking about is tomorrow and focus in coming out and playing our best game.”

Now that the first game of the tournament is behind them the Lady Devils have their eyes on revenge as they move on to face Page in the semifinals.

Last year Page ruined Greeneville’s opportunity to three-peat as state champions with a 1-0 win in the semifinals before the Lady Patriots themselves went on to win the Class AA  State Title. That loss has been on the Lady Devils’ minds ever since, and they go into Thursday’s action looking to return the favor. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. in Chattanooga.

“This is a redemption year in a way for us, we’re glad to be back at this stage, but we have a reputation to keep up,” Greeneville senior defender Molly Hartman said. “We have talked about seeing them again since the preseason. We wanted to get back here and face them again. Now that we have that, we’re ready.”

The Lady Devils got a wake-up call really quick on Wednesday when in the first minute the Lady Trojans sent a through ball ahead to Zainab Manneh and she sprinted past the Lady Devils’ back line before beating keeper Lilly Evatt in a one-on-one showdown.

“We knew what she could do up top, and we knew that if we gave her any space for an opportunity that she could capitalize,” Greeneville coach Jerry Graham said. “Unfortunately we gave her that space, but one good thing out of that was is that it proved that she was the real deal.”

Greeneville did not waste any time finding the equalizer and just one minute later Konieczny fired a straight-away shot from 25 yards out that she curled inside the left post to knot things at 1-1.

“That’s exactly what was going through my head, I knew we had to get that goal back right away,” Konieczny said. “If we let them build on that then its obviously not going to go good for us. I think we knew that we were the better team, but when they scored we kind of realized that we had to get it going.”

From that point forward Greeneville controlled possession while Konieczny and Anna Shaw, along with Tanna Bookhamer and Kendyl Foshie on the outside, kept making dangerous runs into the box.

In the 19th minute one of those runs finally paid off. Konieczny moved a pass ahead to Shaw from the midfield stripe and the junior striker got in front of the Lady Trojans. As Shaw closed in on her shot Dyersburg’s Anna Fisher knocked her off her feet and a yellow card followed.

That set up Konieczny for a penalty kick, and the senior captain smoothly smashed it into the back of the net to give Greeneville a 2-1 lead.

“I was just thinking about placing it. I knew I had to put us up right there, and it was just imperative that I put it in the corner,” Konieczny said.

While Manneh looked like she was going to cause Greeneville problems all day after her first minute goal, Greeneville’s defense stepped up in a big way and shut her down the rest of the way. It started in the midfield with Abi Kate Moore not letting her get started on those breakaway runs. Then on the back end Allie Renner and Hartman locked down the middle of the field and did not allow Manneh, who scored 46 goals this season, to take another shot all day.

On the day Greeneville held Dyersburg to just nine shots with five on goal, and after the first minute Evatt got her hands on everything the Lady Trojans let fly to finish with four saves.

“We just had to keep one person on (Manneh’s) back and someone else had to always be ready to turn and run with her,” Hartman said. “She has speed and we just had to give her a little bit of space so we could cut her off. I’m very proud of us for how we handled that. We have grown so much as a group this season and I’m so proud of where we are at now.”

In the 35th minute Greeneville’s bench gave the Lady Devils some breathing room. The play started with outside back Kylee DeWald making an overlapping run up the right boundary before sending a pass into Kaylee Myers. Myers slid a quick pass into the box to Abby Adkins who kept the ball at her feet through four touches in traffic before pounding a shot past McKenzie Duggan in goal.

“Abby has some absolutely amazing feet out there and when you get her the ball in the 18 she is as good as anybody we have on our team,” Graham said. “As she received it at the top of the 18 we knew what the possibility was, and man did she make a good turn and shot. Knowing that the goal is to play three games in four days, to be able to get production off the bench is big at this level.”

Greeneville took a 3-1 lead into halftime, but coming out of the break the pressure did not let up. In the early portion of the second half Hartman and Foshie both sent shots off the crossbar while Shaw and Bookhamer got into the box, but their shots were just off target.

Then in the 56th minute Moore sent a pass from the midfield to Foshie on the right side of the 18-yard box. The junior took a couple touches toward the posts before burning the turf with a low screamer that she slotted inside the left post for a 4-1 lead.

Over the final 10 minutes Dyersburg turned up the pressure on the other end of the field and got off four of its nine shot attempts, but the Lady Devils held strong and kept those shots out of the net.

In the other Class AA games on Wednesday Page beat Livingston Academy 1-0, East Hamilton beat South Gibson 4-0, and Murfreesboro Central beat Seymour 4-1.

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