Ooltewah High School’s Lady Owls came to roost out behind “The Corral” at Walker Valley as the two teams squared off in some District 5-AAA soccer action.
Despite play being tight through the first half, the Lady Owls really settled in during the second 40 minutes and played fundamental soccer to swoop down and snatch up a 4-nil victory.
The Owl offense came on fast and furious to start off the match, with solid offensive looks in the second and eighth minute of play.
It appeared only a matter of time before Ooltewah’s strikers found the back of the Walker Valley net.
That matter of time amounted to 12 minutes, when Lady Owl striker Kelsey Skillman launched a ball from the top corner of the box to the far corner of the goal to give Ooltewah an early 1-nil lead.
Walker Valley turned the tables in the 18th minute when they were presented with their first set piece of the evening coming off a corner kick.
A well placed ball was placed into the Ooltewah box, but a reflex shot attempt by the Lady Mustangs was cleared by the Owls’ last line of defense.
For the remainder of the half both team battled neck-and-neck for both possession and offensive looks, and while both squads got plenty of the former neither was able to capitalize it into the latter.
The halftime whistle sounded on the 1-nil Ooltewah lead, but both teams appeared one good break away from putting their stamp on the match and grabbing an important district win.
Once again, Ooltewah came out hot, putting shots on goal in the 41st, 44th, 45th and 46th minute.
Walker Valley caught a break in the 48th minute when yet other very promising Lady Owl push down field was negated with an off-sides call to swing some momentum back the Lady Mustangs’ way.
In the 64th minute the home team was on the positive side of a pair of back-to-back corner kicks. But, the attempts were well defended and Walker Valley was left off the scoreboard yet again.
A Lady Mustang mental error combined with a hard run by Skillman led to Ooltewah’s second goal two minutes later.
That was the shift in the tide the Lady Owls were looking for, allowing the team to crank up pressure and start to expose cracks in the Walker Valley armor.
With six minutes left to play in the match Ooltewah’s Christina Cook was given room to work at the top of the box. She made it count, brining the score to 3-nil.
Walker Valley’s Riley Kralik was inches from putting the Lady Mustangs on the board in the final two minutes of play when she was fed a great cross into the box but pushed the shot just wide.
Cook claimed one more for the Lady Owls in stoppage time when she took the ball on a run through the midfield and charged it all the way to the back of Walker Valley’s net for the evening’s final goal.
Seconds later the whistles sounded on the 4-nil final, giving Ooltewah their first district win (3-1-0) and forcing Walker Valley (1-4-0) to look ahead to Thursday’s match at McMinn County for their its district victory.
“Before the game I put it in the team’s hands and asked them what we needed to do to be successful tonight. They gave me about eight things that we listed on the board. Eight things that would make us successful. We didn’t do those things tonight, not one of them,” stated a frustrated Walker Valley head coach Tom Bayliss postgame.
“I think we know what we need to do. But, for some unknown reason we don’t do those things. I don’t want to take anything from Ooltewah. They have some good players who did some good things, but every one of the goals we gave up tonight were gift wrapped for them.”