Prep soccer: Sophomore sensations spark Sissonville
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. -- Scoring goals has never been a problem for the Sissonville High School girls soccer program.
The Indians boast two of the top three goal scorers in the area this season and have the top three career goal scorers in Kanawha Valley girls soccer history: Lydia Murray (132), Rebekah Kendall (130) and Jennifer Povick (129).
However, thanks to some great Herbert Hoover defense led by goalkeeper Bailey Aab, it looked as though Sissonville might not dent the scoreboard for the first time all season on Tuesday night.
Madison Jones, however, got fouled inside the box with 11:42 remaining in the game, and deposited the only goal of the game into the back of the net on a penalty kick, allowing undefeated Sissonville to escape with a 1-0 victory over Hoover (15-4) at Joe Sawyers Field.
"I'll put it this way, it was ugly but we survived," Sissonville Coach Ali Sadeghian said. "Obviously they are a good team. They are highly ranked. They defended us very well and kept us off the goal. You have to give their kid (Aab) credit. She is amazing and does a good job for them."
With the victory, No. 2 Sissonville finished the regular season unbeaten at 17-0-3.
"This is one of the most memorable teams that I have had the last 13 years," Sadeghian said. "They have done a great job and I'm very proud of these girls. If you asked me about three months ago, I would not have said it would be an undefeated season but they did it."
After being frustrated throughout most of the game against Aab and the Hoover defense, Jones was happy to finally be able to deliver for her team with the clutch penalty kick.
"It was a little frustrating but eventually we realized one would go through, and it did," Jones said. "I was just trying not to second guess myself. It felt good because the rest of the season, I was 1-3 on PKs. I ended up changing how I kick it, and it worked. It got my confidence up."
Despite being on the losing end, Hoover Coach Brittany Woods didn't see it that way.
"In my book, we won it," Woods said. "We are walking out of here with our heads held high tonight. We are super proud and stoked. This isn't a loss for me.
"All of our defense shut them down tonight. We knew we would be in the game with such a great defense. All season long they have been great. We haven't had to show off how good Bailey Aab truly is because our defense does a fantastic job."
Aab stood tall all game long against the potent Sissonville offense, collecting 14 saves. She was aided by tremendous defense from sisters Lillian and Olivia Gandee, who had the task of guarding Indian sophomore strikers Jones and Karli Pinkerton.
Jones and Pinkerton are not only battling each other for the team lead in goals but also the area. Jones has 35 goals with Pinkerton right behind with 33.
They trail only Charleston Catholic's Caroline Dundervill, who has 37 goals this season.
"I can't say enough about those two," Sadeghian said. "We are very blessed to have them on our team.
They do a very good job complementing each other. They have grown up together and played together since they were four years old."
Even with losing 2012 state Player of the Year Murray to graduation last year, Jones and Pinkerton have assumed the role of top goal scorers for Sissonville while perhaps providing the Indian program and the Kanawha Valley the heir apparents to the scoring crown.
Jones scored 28 goals last season and with her 35 this year, has 62 goals in two seasons. Pinkerton, meanwhile, tallied 19 goals last season and has 52 in her young career.
Sadeghian definitely feels like one, or even both, could make a serious run at the career goals record currently held by Murray.
"Those two are very special with the scoring," Sadeghian said. "They have a very good chance of competing against each other and the others to break any kind of record in the future. I like having two goal scorers rather than one."
Pinkerton and Jones both know about the record, and are happy to just be mentioned in the same sentence as Murray, Kendall, and Povick.
"It would be nice and is a great opportunity," Pinkerton said. "It's nice to know you are up there. People have mentioned it's like a competition between me and Madison. We have each other's back."
"Of course it feels good," Jones said. "Growing up, I did look up to the high school teams. It's great to be carrying that on. I joke around with Lydia (Murray). I tell her I wont break it. Ill let her keep it. I look at it but I'm not concerned with it. I'm more focused on getting a state championship."