Lady Knights score wins over Alton, Highland
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By Anthony Jones
Triad soccer has found their footing after a slow start to their season.
The Lady Knights, who began the week with an 0-2 mark, visited the Highland Bulldogs on Mar. 20. This matchup with the rival Bulldogs also served as the team’s first Mississippi Valley Conference contest of the spring.
The visitors jumped out to a 3-0 lead by halftime and would finish with a 7-0 victory. Laney Harshany scored twice for Triad and Caty Burton, Alina Ayran, Kamryn Bohnenstiehl, Maddie Hunt and Gabbie Hunt each scored as well. Tavey Duncan and Payton Hartmann split goaltending duties in the shutout.
Two days later, the Lady Knights returned to their home field to take on the Fort Zumwalt South Bulldogs. This matchup served as a matchup of the area’s best, as both programs have won back-to-back state championships on their respective sides of the Mississippi river.
After a scoreless first half, Fort Zumwalt South struck less than two minutes into the second period. Their 1-0 lead proved sufficient in the battle of reigning state champions, dropping Triad to 1-3 on the year.
Mar. 25 saw the Lady Knights back on their home turf to host the Alton Redbirds. Alton entered the matchup with a 4-0 mark and having outscored their opponents 17-0.
Triad struck first in battle of Madison County teams, as Laney Harshany headed in a Gabbie Wood cross in the eighteenth minute of play.
“I saw her get down the line and I got up there. Then she played the perfect ball across and it was right onto my head. Payton did get her hand on it, she was going one way but then I directed it the other way and it ended up going in. It was a great ball by Gabbie,” the goal-scoring captain said of the play that pushed her squad ahead 1-0.
Nine minutes later, sophomore Ella George added to Triad’s lead after tapping a corner kick that pinballed around the box.
The high scoring Redbirds responded with a deficit halving goal five minutes into the second half, with Southeast Missouri bound Emily Baker finding the net.
After an inadvertent handball in the box with seventeen minutes left to play, Alton was awarded a penalty kick. Baker would succeed from the spot to knot the game up at 2-2.
The decisive goal of the afternoon affair came with 7:29 remaining in the game, as Alina Ayran found the back of the net after fielding a lengthy pass from Caty Burton.
Tavey Duncan would finish with the win in net for the Lady Knights.
Coach Matt Bettlach spoke of the team’s first home victory of the spring, “They definitely stepped their play up against a very tough Alton team. They’ve got a lot of speed and they’ve got a lot of girls who are physical and they can hit from anywhere on the field. Especially in the first half, I liked the way we possessed, moved the ball and defended.”
The Lady Knights are hopeful their win over the previously unbeaten Redbirds will build momentum for the team moving forward.
Harshany described the importance of the win, “It feels great. We haven’t had a great start to the year, but this win is definitely getting our confidence up. Going up 2-0 and then them coming back and tying it with the PK and then we continued to fight and we got the third goal with the win, so that means a lot to our team and that gave us a lot of confidence for further on.”