A highly competitive game between Middlesboro and Claiborne, Tennessee ended in a 1-1 draw on Thursday. Officials called the game with 5:44 remaining in the second period due to the lack of daylight.
“I thought both teams had stretches where they played really well,” said Lady Jacket head coach Jeff Sorke. “Both teams had times during the game where they controlled the ball and made some good passes. We competed really well, and I think our team should be proud.”
Bulldog head coach Shawn Peters said he was really pleased with the way his girls played on Thursday.
“They’ve been playing really down here lately. They’ve not been playing as well as they could,” said Peters. “Overall, this is probably one of the better games that I have seen them play. Had they played like this against several other games, especially some of our district games, there would have been different outcomes.”
Both coaches explained that when the two teams play each other it is a close battle.
“It’s always been a good game,” said Peters about playing Middlesboro. “Neither team has ever really outplayed the other. It’s just always been a slobber-knocker to the end. It’s been close every year it seems like.”
The first half of the game was a defensive struggle for both teams. The game paced back and forth with neither team getting a clean look at the goal. Middlesboro had three shots in the first period.
At the 4:00 mark, the Yellow Jackets almost scored when the ball got behind Kayleigh Robbins. Claiborne defenders were able to clear the ball before Middlesboro got a chance to put it in the net.
“There were some good plays in the first half, and there were some misses,” said Sorke. “We had three opportunities in a row within 2 yards of the goal, and it just didn’t go in.”
The Lady Bulldogs got four shots in the first period. Taylor Chittum scored with 41.8 seconds remaining in the half to put Claiborne up 1-0 going into halftime.
“I thought we played pretty disciplined in the back,” said Sorke. “We didn’t make too many mistakes. Unfortunately, the only mistake we made all night long defensively they scored on.”
The Yellow Jackets turned it on in the second half. Middlesboro outshot the Bulldogs 7-3 in the final period of the game.
“I really thought the second half, we really dominated possession,” said Sorke. “We really got a lot of good chances.”
Five minutes into the second half, Sarah Slusher scored a goal to tie the game at 1-1. It was her 14th goal of the season.
Claiborne had opportunities to take the lead in the closing moments of the game but couldn’t find the back of the net. With 16:22 remaining in the game, a free kick from Lilly Cope bounced off the cross bar and into play.
The game was eventually called due to the lack of daylight.
The Bulldogs didn’t exit the game without injuries. Ashley Smith went down early in the second half with an injury. Robbins also went down with an injury after colliding with another player. Carmen Duff hurt her neck late in the game.
“Hopefully we can get them back,” said Peters. “I’m hoping everyone can come back.”
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN