Walker Valley broke a 2-2 halftime tie with Chattanooga Central and exploded for four goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half to send the senior Lady Mustangs out in style with a 6-3 win over the Lady Pounders in the regular season finale.
The Lady Mustangs open the District 5-AAA tournament Saturday at 6 p.m. against McMinn County in Athens.
Head coach Tom Bayliss said the first half had him flashing back three weeks to the 3-2 loss to Bradley Central. Walker Valley, according to Bayliss, was not living up to potential although the Lady Mustangs (5-6) came back from a 1-goal deficit, took a 2-1 lead and held the surging Lady Pounders to a tie at the break.
Walker Valley’s Jaimee Moreland tied the game at 1-1 in the 30th minute. Sophomore Sara Grace Bradley put the Lady Mustangs up 2-1 with an assist from Georgia Wright. Bradley won a fierce battle in front of the pipes catching just enough leather to send the ball trickling past the Central keeper.
“It kind of took us back to Bradley, a tale of two teams,” Bayliss said. “We came out not looking very good in the first half. I told them they had a choice like we did with Bradley and pretty much all of our other games. They could come out and maybe feel sorry for what they maybe didn’t do well in the first half — or change it. And they did. They looked a lot better.”
The second half was all Walker Valley.
The Lady Mustangs fell behind 3-2 in the 42nd minute but came right back to tie it at 3-all on a free kick by Bri Prugh. Two minutes later, Moreland scored her second goal of the day with a brilliant shot from the right side that tipped the outstretched fingertips of the Central keeper before snuggling into the nylon.
Prugh followed suit at the 49-minute mark with her second marker of the day on a breakaway upping the Walker Valley lead to 5-3. Wright, who booked an assist earlier, used some assistance from Hannah Leggett to put the final ball in the back of the net in the 51st minute to give the Lady Mustangs a 6-3 cushion.
“It was a good second half. I’m proud of them for doing that (scoring four goals). I hope we do it more often. Going into the tournament Saturday with McMinn it will take that and more,” said Bayliss. “We didn’t do so hot with McMinn the first time. But it was kind of one of those where the first half and the second half we didn’t show up to play. I will try to figure out how to convince them to show up and play both halves.”