The Greeneville soccer team had Knox Halls’ heads spinning almost immediately on Saturday afternoon as the Lady Greene Devils made charge after charge at the goal on the way to dominant win in the Class AA State Sectionals.
After three goals in the first six minutes Greeneville finished the day with a 7-1 win and earned a trip to the Class AA state tournament for the eighth straight year.
“We’re just super excited about where these girls have come from where we started,” Greeneville coach Jerry Graham said. “We lost seven seniors and we knew we had a lot of chemistry to work on. Our schedule has been super competitive this year, we have had some losses, but these girls have had a great mindset. We have been putting small pieces together all season, but tonight we put a lot of pieces together.”
The Class AA State Tournament will begin on Wednesday at Girls Preparatory School in Chattanooga. The Lady Greene Devils are two years removed from back-to-back state titles in 2020 and 2019, but last year they were eliminated in the semifinals to eventual state champion Page 1-0. Greeneville is heading to Chattanooga focused on getting back on top.
“It’s really, really exciting to be going back to state, but little nerve wracking,” Greeneville senior Annemarie Konieczny said. “We’re ready to go. This postseason has been about no mercy, we want to drill everybody we see, and we want to leave everything out on the field.”
Greeneville’s flurry of goals started in the fourth minute with Konieczny sending the ball ahead from the midfield to Anna Shaw. Shaw charged into the box from the right side with Tanna Bookhammer following along the left side. The Lady Red Devils converged on Shaw and she tapped the ball over to Bookhamer who punched it past keeper Breanna Sanderson for a 1-0 lead.
Before the Lady Red Devils could even regroup on defense Shaw took possession and sent a pass ahead to Konieczny who fired from the top of 18-yard box. The shot was tipped but the defense could not get to it before it trickled across the goal, still in the fourth minute.
Konieczny finished the night with a hat trick, which continues her hot streak through the postseason and now her goal total over the last two weeks is 13.
“I’m just trying to be the leader of this team, we lost some important leaders from last year and I’m just trying to fill that role,” Konieczny said. “I have a lot great people around me, and we work so well together. That makes doing what I have been doing so easy.”
In the sixth minute Shaw put Greeneville in front 3-0 with a solo run. She took possession outside the box from the right side and banged off Ava Garrett to create some space. Then came some deft dribbling that had Megan Biliter spinning in circles before she slammed a shot inside the left post from 12-yards away.
Shaw gave Halls problems all day with her aggressive runs into the box, and by the end of the game those runs resulted in two goals and three assists from the junior.
“This year my role has changed, but when I can go in and put pressure on the defense it opens things up so that teammates can put goals in,” Shaw said. “It’s just about teamwork and having that connection. On and off the field we feel connected, and I feel like some of the things we do with teamwork off the field is helping us have a really good connection on the field.”
Kiley Scott increased Greeneville’s lead to 4-0 in the 18th minute when she launched a shot from 30 yards that curled into the net.
The Lady Greene Devils went to halftime leading 5-0 after Bookhamer took possession in the box and dropped it back to Konieczny who fired from the right side and pounded her shot inside the left post.
The scoring did not slow down in the second half and in the 45th minute Scott chipped a pass into the box to Shaw. Shaw darted at the goal and rifled a shot from the edge of the six-yard box that Sanderson had no chance of stopping.
In the 48th minute Greeneville’s lead moved to 7-0. Kendyl Foshie made a challenging run into the box from the right side, but was upended by a defender. The ball still managed to make its way to Shaw who slipped a pass to her left to Konieczny. The senior took her shot through traffic and completed her hat trick.
Garrett got Halls on the board in the 52nd minute when she pulled up from long range and snuck her shot just under the crossbar.
Over the final 30 minutes Greeneville’s defense, which had largely been unchallenged in the first half, took over. The Lady Red Devils made a handful of dangerous attempts, but keeper Lilly Evatt turned all of them away to keep Greeneville in front and headed to Chattanooga.