Hurricane's Allison Clay (left) and Winfield's Mary Lawman vie for a header near midfield.
HURRICANE, W.Va. - When Winfield faced its first deficit of the season, the Generals had to summon some fortitude that hadn't been needed much in marching to an undefeated record.Winfield was again able to find that resolve that served them well during last year's state championship run as Katie Bryant scored twice and freshman Mary Lawman once as the No. 1 Generals handed host No. 2 Hurricane its first loss, a 3-1 decision Tuesday.An overflow crowd of about 400 attended the Class AAA girls high school soccer showdown and Putnam County rivalry. Hurricane and Winfield are only separated by about 12 miles."Whether one of us is 50th in the state and the other one's first, it's always just a battle,'' said Winfield coach Marshall Hoff, whose team won two postseason games last year in overtime.
"And it's a good thing because you've got to have mental toughness against a good team. We needed to come back and battle. We were real intense at halftime. We stepped up [in the second half] and won some balls.'' Abby Watson gave the Redskins (8-1) their only lead at 1-0 in the 10th minute, outmuscling Winfield defender Kaylee Cross, so much so that she ended up knocked to the ground, to deposit the through ball from Hurricane teammate Audrey Barber around Generals keeper Braiden Maddox.Bryant answered in the 21st minute for Winfield (13-0), sending a cross from Jayne Lawman just under the crossbar and over Redskins goalie Hannah Thompson from point-blank range in front of the net to knot it up at 1-all.The teams remained deadlocked until after halftime when freshman Mary Lawman and M.E. Zulauf hooked up on the go-ahead tally in the 51st minute. Zulauf put a corner kick on the near left post and Lawman soared above Thompson to flick the ball over Thompson's shoulder for a 2-1 lead."She just runs through the ball,'' Winfield's leading scorer Jayne Lawman said of younger sister Mary. "She has good speed. She just brings a lot to the team.''Bryant gave the Generals some breathing room with a goal to push their edge to 3-1 in the 67th minute. Zulauf put a shot on Thompson, who momentarily corralled the blast, but then the ball popped out and Bryant was in front of the net to clean it up for the score.The Redskins then put a flurry of shots on goal the rest of the way, including one off the left post, but Maddox came up with every save and finished with 10."[Hurricane] just got in our heads, I don't know how,'' said Jayne Lawman, who recently verbally committed to Marshall. "We had to pick it up and settle down and just work as a team. Once we got that first goal back we just got back up.''For Hurricane coach Shelly Young, Winfield exposed some weak points. There's a good possibility that the Redskins and Generals will meet for the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship as well as in sectional play."It's tough to lose, but it's a good time,'' she said. "My girls are motivated to make the changes that we need to make. Just small things like winning balls in the air. This game really brought it to the forefront."A couple little things to tweak on defense, how our defense shifts and our defensive formations. Sometimes when you win all the time it's hard to convince teenage girls that just because we're winning doesn't mean we're doing everything right.''
Lawman said Tuesday's win over Hurricane reinforced what the Generals must do to repeat as champions."You can't let people get you down,'' said the junior. "Whenever you first come out, be prepared. We haven't been down like that this year. It was a good setback for us to work harder and not let that happen again.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.