For the first time in the history of the Stump on Sports Tennessee-Georgia All-Star Soccer Classic, the Peach State has pulled off a sweep. After a 2-1 victory by the Georgia boys at Chattanooga's Finley Stadium back on June 6, the Georgia girls matched them with a hard-fought 2-1 victory on an overcast but humid Friday afternoon on Finley's turf.
It was just the second-ever victory by the Georgia girls, equaling a one-goal win (4-3) over Tennessee in 2008. Tennessee still leads the overall series, 6-2-1.
"Last year was fun and it was a close match," said LaFayette head coach Whitney Stinson, who guided Georgia to the win after coming up short, 5-2, a year ago, "but it's always more fun when you win. It was tough finding some girls to play, but the ones we got really came to play. We had only nine at practice last night, so I was a little worried because Tennessee always has great players, but we played well together."
A scoreless first half saw both teams manage just two shots on goal. Georgia had the best scoring opportunity with nine minutes left in the half as Troy University signee Mallary Hedden (Cass) fired a shot toward the right side of the goal that was deflected by the Tennessee keeper at the last moment.
But just 2:30 into the second half, Georgia would get on the board. After Hedden was taken down on a foul 30 yards from goal, a perfectly-placed free kick Cassidy Steele (East Jackson) nestled in the top right corner of the net to put Georgia on top.
The Peach State girls struck again with 15:50 remaining. After a nice pass from Shelby Narmore (LaFayette) to Cherish Lowery (Adairsville),
Lowery found Hedden streaking toward the front of the goal and a well-placed crossing pass found the foot of Hedden who tapped it past the keeper to make it 2-0.
With 10 minutes to play, Miranda Smith (Soddy-Daisy) cut Georgia's lead in half on a rocket of a strike from the left edge of the box that beat keeper Ashley Hadenbaugh (Gordon Central), and Smith nearly evened up the score with 2:30 to play, only to see her shot sail high.
Georgia outshot Tennessee, 9-5, with Hadenbaugh collecting three saves.
Stinson praised her backline of Lucy Lansing (Rome), Sierra Hendrix (LaFayette) and Madeline Tipton (Fannin County). Lansing was later named the Georgia Player of the Game for her efforts.
"They were just phenomenal today," she said. "They looked like they had played back there together for a season or more."
Smith took home Tennessee Player of the Game honors.
The Tennessee-Georgia All-Star Classic series will conclude on Wednesday, June 18 with the baseball and softball games.
Baseball will be held at McCallie School at 6 p.m., preceded by a home run derby at 4 p.m.
Softball will be played at Frost Stadium in Chattanooga. The annual doubleheader will begin at 6 p.m.