By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
The Southwestern Lady Warrior soccer team has had only one goal in mind since the beginning of the season – winning a regional title.
The Somerset Lady Jumpers meanwhile had been one of the biggest surprises of the season, bringing in a four-game winning streak into their contest with Southwestern on Tuesday evening at Clara Morrow Field.
And, despite the fact that Erin Mullins' club played the highly-touted Lady Warriors extremely tough in the opening half of play, Somerset ran out of gas in the second frame physically as Southwestern flexed its muscles and continued on the roll taht has been the 2013 season.
Nick Stringer's club got three goals from Hanna Ratliff, while Nicole Upchurch, Tiffany Russell, Katherine Citak, and Brandi Abrams all tallied scores as well, helping the visiting Lady Warriors roll to an impressive 7-0 victory over Somerset on its home turf.
"I thought we played pretty well, but we didn't come out with the kind of energy in this game in the first half that I was hoping we would have," stated coach Stringer after watching his club's victory that improved Southwestern to 7-2 on the year.
"I could kind of tell during warmups that we just weren't here, and I don't know if they were looking ahead for their day off tomorrow with no school," continued the SWHS coach. "Our energy just wasn't there and I think that made us kind of a step slow in the first half."
While the Lady Warriors may have indeed been a step slow, that certainly didn't hamper Southwestern's shot attempts on goal.
Stringer's club continued its pressure on Somerset by getting numerous shots -- some at point blank range -- against the Lady Jumpers defense.
Problem for Southwestern however was those shots just wouldn't go into the net.
Hanna Ratliff's first of three goals on the night came very early in the contest giving Southwestern a 1-0 lead, but the Lady Warriors would not score again until very late in the opening half, when Nicole Upchurch's tally gave her club a 2-0 lead over Somerset at the intermission.
"Honestly, I thought we put up a pretty good fight against them (Lady Warriors) in the first half," pointed out Somerset head coach Erin Mullins, after watching her club have its four game winning streak snapped to fall to 5-5 on the season.
"I thought that first half this was an evenly matched first half," added Mullins. "They got lucky and took advantage of an inexperienced defender that anybody could make."
Hampering Somerset's bid for the upset was the fact that starting keeper Topanga Brown wsa injured less than 14 minutes into the contest, and she would not return.
That put a lot of pressure on the Lady Jumpers backup keeper -- freshman Jade Grabeel -- who, considering the circumstances, played pretty well in relief of Somerset's All-Region keeper.
"Jade did her job with the experience that she's had and the work that we've been able to give her," stated coach Mullins.
"She did what she needed to do tonight," stated the SHS coach. "With this being a cross-town rival, this is a lot of pressure, especially for a freshman put in a tough spot like Jade was tonight."
Already leading Somerset by that 2-0 margin at the half, Southwestern exploded in the second period, finally figuring out a way to get the ball in the net.
Katherine Citak's goal off a corner kick with 28:32 remaining in the game gave the Lady Warriors a 3-0 cushion to work with, but there would be much more to come for Stringer and crew.
Less than a minute later, Brandi Abrams put the ball past Grabeel extending the Southwestern advantage to 4-0.
Later in the second frame, Ratliff would score two more goals to give her the hat trick in the win, while Russell scored on a penalty kick, helping the Lady Warriors move to 7-2 on the year with the 7-0 triumph.
"We are playing well right now," pointed out Stringer. "The Collins game that we recently lost, we were tied 2-2 up until the very last minute."
"Our team wants to come out and compete hard each and every game," added the Lady Warrior coach. "Their number one goal is to compete for the region, and they talk about that every day."
Southwestern will return to action tonight with a home game against Mercer County, while the Lady Jumpers will return to action this evening at Clara Morrow Field to host the McCreary Central Lady Raiders.
That game is set to begin at 6 p.m.