Middlesboro suffered their first loss of the season a week ago to North Laurel. The Lady Jackets rebounded on Tuesday with a 5-0 victory over an upstart Harlan County squad.
“I thought we looked like a team that was coming off a three-day weekend. The last time we were together, we lost Thursday to North Laurel,” said Middlesboro coach Jeff Sorke. “I thought we looked a little rusty. We weren’t sharp.”
Four different players scored goals for the Lady Jackets during the game. Sarah Slusher finished the game with a team-high two goals with one assist. Aubrey Sowders, Baylee Woody and Avery Miracle also had a goal during the game.
Five players finished the game with an assist. Those included: Emily Barnwell, Khaelyn Spriggs, Slusher, Miracle and Woody.
“We do have a lot of offensive potential. I think we can still improve even better than we are,” said Sorke. “We’ve got defensive players scoring. We’ve probably got seven or eight people on the team that can score and score nice goals. They can beat people, they can take them off the dribble and finish shots.”
Middlesboro controlled the pace of the game throughout with the Lady Black Bears finding moments of success pushing the ball forward. The Lady Jackets had nine shots on goal in the first period and was able to score four goals.
Sowders scored first inside the 13th minute to give Middlesboro a 1-0 lead. The Lady Jackets started to rally midway through the period with Woody increasing the lead to 2-0 with a goal.
A hand-ball inside the box gave Middlesboro a penalty kick. Slusher scored on the attempt to increase the lead to 3-0. She scored her second goal of the game near the end of the period after an assist from Spriggs to give the Lady Jackets a 4-0 lead.
“I feel like we just missed too many shots in the first half. I think that’s the story of the game. We missed too many easy chances in the first half,” said Sorke. “We were shooting straight to the keeper. She’s tall. We didn’t work her enough on the ground. We shot to her strength. She’s a good keeper.”
Middlesboro had three shots on goal in the second period. Miracle scored the lone goal in the second half off a header from Slusher to secure the Lady Jacket victory.
“This is her (Miracle) first game back off a concussion. She’s been out for a couple of games, so I just had to spot play her,” said Sorke. “She scored on a really good play. We had a pass come in from Emily Barnwell into the box, and Sarah Slusher headed back over to Avery who put it in from the back post. It was a really nice play.”
Harlan County didn’t make it easy for Middlesboro. Elizabeth Ball had four saves in the first period. The Lady Bears also had two shots on goal in the period and finished the game with four total.
“You have to give Harlan (County) credit. They’re and athletic team,” said Sorke. “They gave 110 percent and really pushed us.”
Middlesboro (5-1) will host Whitley County (4-1) at 6 p.m. on Thursday.
Harlan County (1-1) will host Buckhorn (0-5) at noon on Saturday.
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN