Ciara Goins scored a pair of goals to get Cumberland Gap rolling in a 4-1 come-from-behind win over Middlesboro in recent high school soccer action.
Although the score might not reflect it, the Lady Panthers’ home win didn’t come easy over their foes from the north end of the Cumberland Gap Tunnel.
The game went scoreless for 21 minutes before Sarah Slusher’s well-placed goal gave the visiting Lady Yellow Jackets a 1-0 lead.
“Sarah Slusher is a really good player and we mostly held her in check,” said Cumberland Gap coach Lorri Kimbrough. “We were a little worried about that.”
Middlesboro head coach Jeff Sorke was also familiar with his opponents. He coached many of the Cumberland Gap girls in middle school.
“Cumberland Gap has good speed and strength,” said Sorke. “I mean they’re really quick all across the field from front to the back. So we kind of bunkered in a little bit to try and counteract that speed.”
Twenty- nine grueling minutes in, Goins tied the game 1-1 off a cross assist from Jesee Kimbrough. That score still stood at halftime.
“My team came out a little stale and slow,” said Kimbrough. “In our typical fashion, we shot and shot and shot, and couldn’t make one. But we played good defense, and overall did pretty good. “
Despite numerous Cumberland Gap attacks, many fended off by Lady Jacket goalkeeper Jade Robertson, the stalemate held up until the 54th minute. That’s when Goins drilled an exceptional shot into the net to give the Lady Panthers a 2-1 advantage.
In the 67th minute, Tabitha Roy, during a 15-minute hiatus from goalkeeping, hooked in a nifty left footer after a corner kick from Brooklynn Whitaker. Roy’s shot gave Cumberland Gap some breathing room with a 3-1 lead.
Five minutes later, Chantel Davis dished the ball to Riley Collett who hammered in the final goal to make it 4-1.
Middlesboro played tough defense throughout, but the Lady Panthers were fiercer, limiting the Lady Jackets to a handful of trips into Cumberland Gap territory. Middlesboro’s first shot on goal in the second half didn’t come until eight minutes remaining.
“Honestly, I think Cumberland Gap just wanted it more at the beginning of the second half,” said Sorke.
It was only the fourth loss on the season for Sorke’s Lady Jackets, who advanced to the quarterfinals recently in Kentucky’s All “A” Tournament in Frankfort.
Sidelined Lady Panther defender Sammy Pierce, fresh off extensive knee surgery, was the loudest cheerleader at the game. Her sister Alyssa, and the Lady Panthers, gave her older sibling a lot to be happy about.
“Alyssa had a big game,” said Kimbrough. “She’s stepping up for Sammy, so that’s a big deal.”
Cumberland Gap was looking for its fifth win of the season against Cocke County Sept. 29 in Newport.
“That’ll be a tough battle for us against a Triple-A school,” said Kimbrough.