Freshmen help Sissonville regain contender's form
Lydia Murray knew if Sissonville was going to go anywhere this season the Indians would need more than just her firepower.
So far they're getting both as Murray, a senior, and freshman forward Madison Jones scored two goals and added two assists apiece in a 6-0 decision Thursday evening over Midland Trail. A crowd of about 50 attended the matchup of Class AA-A state-ranked girls high school soccer teams at Joe Sawyer Field in Sissonville.
Sissonville advanced to the state championship game last season, falling to Grafton 2-1. The Indians lost six starters from that squad and needed a new infusion of talent to return to states and take care of some unfinished business.
The Indians (15-2), who are second in this week's state coaches association rankings, won their 10th straight since a 3-0 loss at Bridgeport, which is now No. 1, on Sept. 1.
"From the beginning of the season we've come a long way,'' said Murray, who is now five goals shy of the Kanawha Valley career goal scoring record of 130 set by former Sissonville standout Rebekah Kendall.
"[The freshmen] have all stepped up to help. If we didn't have them, I don't know. [They've added] a lot of speed and help up front and in the back [on defense].''
In turn, Murray's path to the goal has been a little less congested this year.
"[Opponents] have to watch everyone else,'' she said of not facing as many double- and triple-team defenses this season. "There's more than just one person that can score. We just need to keep working like we have been and get better every day.''
Murray, who recently committed to the University of Charleston, paces Sissonville with 28 goals, but she's not the only threat.
Jones has 20 goals while freshman midfielder Karli Pinkerton has chipped in 13. Jones, Pinkerton, freshman keeper Brook Reed, who finished with three saves for the shutout Thursday, and freshman defender Courtney Strobel have started every game this year for the Indians.
"We've gotten a lot of good help from our younger players,'' said Sissonville coach Ali Sadeghian. "Our key to success is the contributions we're getting from our freshman group. They give us a lot of help and a lot of minutes. They've done a great job covering some of the spots.''
Sissonville jumped on the No. 12 Patriots (7-4-2) early Thursday as Jones and Murray tallied goals less than two minutes apart, each assisting on the other's score. Murray netted her second goal with 9:43 left in the opening half on a setup from Jones and less than three minutes later Jones scored off an assist from Murray for a 4-0 advantage.
"By far the best team we've played,'' said Midland Trail coach Scott Wilson. "Sissonville has such talent, we relish the opportunity.
"I can do some things against them [and] if it will halfway work against them it's going to work against other teams. They got three goals in the first half just on their speed. We pushed up like we normally do. We're used to one girl being really fast or two, but they've got three or four. And they're skilled.''
Indians junior midfielder Mary Schmeck and senior midfielder Cassidy Lewis pitched in a goal each in the second half to close out the scoring.
"Right now we're still dealing with a couple of injuries,'' said Sadeghian. "We've given them a break the last few games and hopefully that'll get them ready. If we stay healthy we'll have a good chance.''
"We don't want the same thing to happen,'' added Murray of last year's title game. "We want to win this year. We just want to get ready.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.