After losing senior leader Katie Johnson to a knee injury in the second period, St. Stephens was determined not to let her down.
Freshman Alex Roarke and sophomore Macy Franklin each pocketed goals in the second period, as St. Stephens picked up its eighth conference victory against Watauga on Thursday.
“Katie gets hurt and all of a sudden, we picked up our play,” said Indians coach Chuck Davis. “You have to hand it to the girls for having their teammates back. They wanted to do it for Katie. It was nice for them to step up in her absence.”
The Lady Indians (13-3-3, 8-1-1) went up 1-0 behind a goal from Johnson in the fourth minute.
They had several other opportunities to score in the period, including an open-netter by Franklin in the 26th minute.
Feeling the pressure and hearing footsteps, Franklin missed the wide open shot.
“I looked up, saw the defender coming and heard my teammates yelling,” Franklin said. “I thought I had to hurry and finish the shot. I kicked it on a bad bounce when I should have waited.”
Despite the missed chances, defense helped the Indians hold a 1-0 lead at halftime.
Six minutes into the second period, Johnson had another opportunity to score a goal.
However, she would get tangled in between two defenders in front of the net and immediately fall to the ground holding her knee in pain. She was helped off the field by medical personnel.
Roarke said she and her teammates did not want Katie’s effort on the field to be in vane.
“You don’t want to ever see a teammate go down,” Roarke said. “You want to come out with more fire, but you don’t want to lose in the same game we lost our teammate, too.”
Roarke responded by kicking in a goal in the 61st minute on an assist from Sabrina Summers.
The momentum continued later in the period, when Franklin redeemed herself from her missed opportunity by connecting on a goal in the 73rd minute off an assist from Jessica Kerley.
“Coach was telling me to pick my head up and play a half-second slower,” Franklin said. “As soon as I got the ball, I looked up, made eye contact with the goalie and placed it in the net, instead of rushing the shot. I made up for the goal I missed before.”
Davis said he believed Franklin would score a goal in the game.
“I looked at all the coaches and told them Macy had to score a goal,” Davis said. “She beat the goalkeeper and was all by herself in the first half. She had a bunch of chances. I knew she would break through and one would go in for her.”
From there, the Lady Indians were on cruise control on their way to an eighth conference win.
The Indians are in firm control of the conference lead. Davis is optimistic of his team’s chance for a title.
“We have spring break now. We come back to play South Caldwell and Hibriten,” Davis said. “If we can knock those two down, we can lock the conference up. It’s not over yet, though.”