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BHS ends 2-year state drought; Lady Irish also going
Catholic rebounds from region loss to Bearden, blanks Science Hill to earn state tourney trip

Rebounding in style at the high school home of Steve Spurrier, Knoxville Catholic earned a state tourney trip to Chattanooga.

The No. 7 state-ranked Lady Irish, rebounding from a hard-fought 4-3 loss to Bearden in the Region 2-AAA title game Oct. 28, blanked Johnson City Science Hill on the road in Sectionals, 3-0, Saturday, Oct. 30.

Catholic and head coach Mark Leader, whose Lady Irish (17-3-3) handed Bearden its only loss in 2010 late in the regular season, opened state quarterfinal play Wednesday, Nov. 3 (after deadline) against Collierville (13-8-1).

That winner plays either No. 4 Franklin (17-4-2) or Murfreesboro Oakland (13-6-1) in the semifinals at Baylor School starting at 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 4.

State title game at Girls Preparatory School begins at 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 6.

Leader said after the region title loss to Bearden, “It’s the fourth [game] that counts,” referring to a possible state title showdown with No. 2 Bearden.

In the region showdown with BHS, All-District forward Reece McKenzie came out of a mild collision with BHS goalkeeper Katie Emig and tapped home, with a wide open net, the tying goal with 27:09 to go, making it 2-2.

“I give credit to Reece, because great forwards continue to run all the way through, and that’s what she did,” BHS head coach Eric Turner said.

It only took 69 seconds for Catholic to seize the lead.

Rebecca Stover was called for a foul inside the Lady Irish offensive box. McKenzie’s penalty kick to the upper right of the goal made it 3-2 KCHS.

“With Catholic, they always find a way to come back once we score,” Stover said. “So we had to find a way to come back at them once they scored.”

Catholic broke on top first. Molly Dwyer, Lady Irish freshman scoring sensation hampered by a MCL knee sprain suffered late in the regular season, got a crossbar rebound off Claire Stauber’s free kick and scored from about 12 yards out at the 35:54 mark.

“I can’t turn very well, and I can’t sprint at my fullest — I’m probably about 80, 85 percent,” said Dwyer, who with McKenzie is Catholic’s other top scorer.

“I couldn’t have done it without my team,” Dwyer added about her freshman success. “I look up to my upperclassmen, they’re my role models. Reece McKenzie has given me so much advice, and I just can’t thank her enough.”

Bearden’s Allison Daniels tied it about eight minutes later. The senior controlled a pass near the top of the 18-yard box and, with a split second of open opportunity, fired home the game-tying goal.

“Allison Daniels had a great game,” Turner said.

Samantha Turner added to her all-time school lead in goals scored, punching home No. 94 and putting BHS up 2-1 early in the second half.

A free-kick goal from about 40 yards out by BHS’s Kimble Glover tied the game 3-3 with 24:33 to play.

Glover said Bearden’s forwards — Kristi Granger, Turner, Caroline Gianeselli and Cassidy Smith — “they all stepped up and did their part, and they brought us back in the game.”

The Lady SoccerDawgs went ahead for good thanks to an alert diagonal lead pass from Gabrielle Gianeselli, who found Granger behind the Catholic defense.

Coach Turner said Gabrielle Gianeselli “was just solid in the middle of the field,” and Stover “has been exploiting so many people this year, especially in district. She’s definitely had a great tournament.”


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