These days, the Pepperell varsity girls’ soccer team is coming to terms with having a target on its back. And they are proving that they are ready to defend their reputation.
A business-like approach helped the Lady Dragons keep their cool un-der pressure early against Armuchee on Tuesday, as Pepperell came back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to get a 2-1 win at home.
The victory maintains the team’s undefeated record, putting them at 6-0 on the season and against Region 7-AA opponents.
First-year Pepperell head coach Deana Spranza called the team’s un-blemished record — which is the best start in the program’s history — bittersweet after seeing first-hand how it has developed.
“I’ve been involved with this program as a parent since the beginning and as a coach for three years, so to see how far it has come and what these girls have accomplished, I couldn’t be prouder,” Spranza said. “They are all hard working, dedicated, selfless players.”
Ansley Davenport gave the Lady Dragons their first goal in the 59th minute, while teammate Sydni Hazelwood put Pepperell on top three minutes later by coming up the middle quick and sneaking past Armuchee’s keeper.
The Lady Dragons made plenty of attempts to get on the board in the first half but were thwarted by Armuchee’s defensive line and keeper, Caroline Ray, who finished with seven saves, all coming in the first half.
“We had some amazing opportunities in the first half, but their keeper is so good. She is phenomenal and kept us trying to get our first goal,” Spranza said. “I told our girls at halftime that we can’t be complacent, and we have to go out and take advantage of every opportunity on goal that we have.”
The Lady Indians (3-3-1, 1-2 7-AA) managed to put pressure on Pep-perell early on and took a 1-0 lead in the 19th minute as Melissa Ramos crossed a shot on goal that bounced off the far post and behind Lady Dragon keeper Bre Culpepper.
Armuchee head coach Mark Dulaney said they were aware of how good Pepperell had been playing and was pleased with his players’ toughness.
“We knew coming in that Pepperell has two of the best players in this part of the state and we were going to have to handle them for 80 minutes or they would find a way to score,” Dulaney said. “Our girls played with a lot of fight and didn’t make any excuses. We’re disappointed with the loss, but I think we saw just what we can do moving forward this season.”
Marleni Perez and Davenport each recorded assists for the Lady Drag-ons, while Culpepper had seven saves in goal as well. Armuchee’s Alexis Thornton had a close call in the 54th minute as a shot on goal to put the Lady Indians up 2-0 hit off the far post.
Pepperell is on the road today to take on Chattooga, while Armuchee will host Coosa on Thursday.
Rome girls 4, Woodland 1
Mae Pierce recorded a hat trick and the Rome High girls’ soccer team remained undefeated in Region 7-5A action on Tuesday as they picked up a 4-1 win over Woodland.
Allison Loveman scored the Lady Wolves’ other goal, while Janet Hartman had an assist. Madison Ingram had six saves and Michelle Monzalvo recorded two saves while splitting time in goal.
Rome (7-3, 4-0 7-5A) will host Carrollton at Barron Stadium on Friday.
Coosa teams sweep Dade
A trip to Trenton was fruitful for both the Coosa boys’ and girls’ soccer teams on Tuesday as they each came back with victories.
The Coosa girls edged out the host Lady Wolverines 3-2, with goals from Emily Martin, Debra Barker and Jasmine Limon. The Lady Eagles are now 6-1 overall and 5-1 against Region 7-AA teams.
Coosa’s boys shut out Dade County, winning by a final of 8-0 to remain undefeated on the season with a record of 7-0 overall and 6-0 in 7-AA.
Both Coosa squads will travel to Armuchee on Thursday.