By David Rogers. BOONE, N.C. — It is not often that Watauga junior forward Katie Durham turns her back on the goal with the ball. Early in the first half of the May 8 Northwestern Conference women’s soccer match vs. Hibriten, that’s exactly what she did.
With the Pioneers having moved the ball up the left side on attack, sophomore wing Kate Sears made a short pass back to Durham. With a pressing defensive player fast upon her as she took possession, Durham pushed the ball back roughly three yards into space, whirled, and lofted a shot from 23 yards out. The ball sailed up and over the outstretched hands of the Panther goalkeeper, looping just under the crossbar in the right corner for Watauga’s first goal. The effort was highlight reel worthy for the season, to be sure.
Hibriten battled back until freshman Bryanna Giron found the back of the net to tie the score at 1-1, but Pioneer senior midfielder Maya Nelson added a second half penalty kick, ripping the back of the net along the right side as the Panther goalkeeper guessed wrong on direction and dove to her right, the Pioneers taking the game 2-1.
“As coaches, we asked our players to start the game with intensity and tenacity, and all of them rose to the occasion,” Watauga head coach Chris Tarnowski told High Country Sports after the game. “This team has grown throughout the season and become such a cohesive group. That really shows when they face adversity in big games. Our captains, Maya Nelson, Katie Durham, and Sam Bertrand, are first rate leaders that encompass the values we try to teach at Watauga. They truly lead by example. Each player went above and beyond what was asked of them and it resulted in a team-first win.”
The Pioneers return to the field at Jack Groce Stadium for a last Northwestern Conference game on May 10, vs. Freedom. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m.