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HomeHigh SchoolWatauga drops Freedom in regular season finale, 9-0

Watauga drops Freedom in regular season finale, 9-0

By David Rogers. BOONE, N.C. — For the first 20 minutes of Watauga’s final, regular season women’s soccer match at Jack Groce Stadium, vs. Freedom, the teams were deadlocked in a 0-0 tie. After Pioneer junior Katie Durham punched in a goal with some 14 minutes remaining for the game’s first goal, the home team’s scoring became an avalanche. The match ended only a minute into the second half, the “mercy rule” having been triggered when Watauga reached 9-0.


Photographic image by David Rogers

Had it not been for some acrobatic saves by the Patriots’ freshman goalkeeper, Gianny Regino, the “mercy rule” would have ended the game at halftime. As it was, the Pioneers scored seven more goals in the waning minutes of the first half after Durham’s first tally — including two MORE by Watauga’s most prolific attacker.  The halftime score was 8-0, one short of the automatic trigger for the NCHSAA “mercy rule” when it comes to high school soccer.

No possession time records were kept, but less than three minutes are estimated to have been played in Watauga’s defensive end. In short, the Pioneers dominated once they got going.

Mattie Durham (14, dark jersey), far right, scores the final goal for Watauga in the Pioneers’ 9-0 win over Freedom on May 10. Photographic image by David Rogers

“We started a bit slow,” recalled Pioneer head coach Chris Tarnowski, “but these are a great bunch of players for fixing what might be wrong. I am very proud of this team and the big lead allowed us to get some valuable playing time for many of our non-starters.”

Tarnowski named senior midfielder Laurel Kiker as the “Player of the Game.” After Kiker entered the game in the final 15 minutes of the first half, she almost immediately found the back of the net for one of Watauga’s last goals of the session.

With the win, Watauga (9-0-1 in Northwestern Conference, 14-2-1 overall) put an exclamation mark on its being the sole conference champion for the 2023 regular season. The Pioneers now await word of who a first round opponent might be in the state playoffs, with a probable start to first round play on May 15.

Ever opportunistic, Durham has 27 goals on the season.


Goals by:

  • Katie Durham (3)
  • Kate Sears
  • Maya Nelson
  • Sophia Masaid
  • Charlotte Cuthbert
  • Laurel Kiker
  • Mattie Durham

Assists by:

  • Abby Hemp (2)
  • Georgia Parker (2)
  • Maya Nelson
  • Mattie Durham
  • Katie Durham


All photographic images by David Rogers



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