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Lamar takes 1-0 thriller behind goal by Covington

By Staff
SHOT ON GOAL Lamar's Jessi Fort, right, takes a shot against Starkville goalie Avery Allen as Starkville's Chelsea Phillips looks on. Allen turned the Lamar scoring attempt away, but the Lady Raiders went on to take a 1-0 victory at Northeast Park on Thursday afternoon.Photo by Kyle Carter/The Meridian Star
By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
Aug. 22, 2003
A lone gray cloud unburdened itself of its contents over the Northeast Park Soccer Complex on Thursday just 21 minutes into the Lamar School girls' soccer match against Starkville Academy.
The 10-minute downpour proved to be a catch-22 situation for the players, as the Lady Raiders (2-0) notched a 1-0 victory over the Lady Volunteers (0-1-1).
"That downpour cooled us off, but it made them a little heavier," said Lamar head soccer coach Eddie Escobar. "It was difficult, but we have been training pretty hard on our fitness. It is showing, and these girls don't give up."
Lamar fought through the deluge to score the game's only goal.
Raiders forward Callie Covington netted the ball at the game's 30-minute mark.
The eighth grader corralled a loose ball that was deflected by Starkville goaltender Avery Allen into the middle of the Lady Volunteers' goal box.
Covington was able to slip the ball into the middle of the net before two Starkville defenders could converge on her.
"(Covington) is a great little player," Escobar said. "She has phenomenal skills, and she can read the play and think a step ahead."
The Lady Raiders' goal was set up by a quick kick off a dead ball by Sara Michelle Nicholson.
The senior player sent a crossing pass to the center of Starkville's goalbox, after Lamar was awarded a free kick in the left corner of the field.
Nicholson's fast start caught the Lady Volunteers' defense off guard forcing Allen to move out of position to make the initial stop that led to the goal.
"If you set up quick, you can get a goal like that," Nicholson said. "We were just trying to catch them off guard and go for it."
Lamar's goal, which came a minute before the rain stopped, came after the home squad controlled the ball for most off the opening half.
The Lady Raiders fought off the Lady Volunteers' initial push in the first two minutes of the game, and were able to keep the ball in Starkville's defensive end for nearly 30 minutes of the 35-minute half.
"Our game is to keep the ball on the ground and keep position," Escobar said. "We have one of the biggest fields of all the teams we play against. We control the ball and distribute."
Despite the constant pressure Lamar put on the Starkville defense, the team struggled to get shots past the opposing goaltender.
Allen stopped 11 of Lamar's 12 shots, including eight of nine in the first half.
"(Allen) was pretty good," Nicholson said. "We were striking a lot of shots up. If we would have kept them low, we may have been able to slip a few past her because it was so wet."
Starkville was able to put pressure on Lamar's defense in the closing 10 minutes of the game.
But the Lady Raiders defense, anchored by goaltender Lizzie Williams who made seven saves for the shut out, was able to rebuff the Lady Volunteers' attack.
"Our defense is definitely solid," Escobar said. "It is probably our biggest asset. We have a strong defense that keeps us in the game."
Lamar continues its season on Saturday as the team takes part in the Pillow Academy jamboree in Greenwood.

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