By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Arlington Lady Tigers 2-0 win over the Millington Lady Trojans Sept. 10 was their second win of the season after 11 games.
But Arlington Head Coach Zeke Vezina is fine with a 2-9 overall record. Maybe because the Millington win in Centennial Park made his team 1-0 in District 14-3A. Or it could be because his team has traveled all over Tennessee playing competitive games against teams like Franklin, Houston and Collierville.
“We’re in a tough situation to where we’re trying to raise the bar for this program,” Vezina said. “We’re traveling the state. We’re playing everybody who was in the top 10.”
Playing so many different styles, the Lady Tigers were introduced to another strategy by Lady Trojan Head Coach Melina Jemmott.
“Millington’s coach did a great job tonight of packing the box and forcing us to play a different style,” Vezina noted. “We’re a very indirect possession strength team. And they were making us thump it from 40 and 50 yards outside. We’re just not used to doing that.”
The Millington game plan was effective keeping the first half scoreless. Lady Trojan goalie Emily Stewart made a big impression on Vezina with her athletic saves throughout the game.
“She should be Best of the Preps,” he said. “She’s getting my vote.”
Stewart took advantage of the Lady Tigers shooting shots from the center of the field getting in position to make more than 12 saves in the game.
But two shots did manage to get pass Stewart in the second half. Lady Tiger Bobbie Willis assisted on a goal of Kylie Huey. From 25 feet out, Huey blasted the ball past Stewart’s outstretch hands to make the score 1-0.
Minutes later Arlington senior Katie Hagen provided insurance with a goal. Vezina noted his team could have been more productive offensively if they would have used every inch of the Centennial Park field by playing the corners.
Millington had a few shots on goal when Lady Trojans like Iris Reyes, Bailey Chandler and Chabeli Brooks were able to get the ball ahead to senior Katlyn Dupree.
Dupree got ahead of the Lady Tiger defense on a couple of opportunities to launch shots missing the net.
Vezina said he was impressed by the Lady Trojans’ effort overall. The veteran coach noted his team took some steps in the right direction.
“There is no question our record could be a lot better if we just get those demons out of our head,” Vezina said. “We’ve been fighting ourselves. We have a new system to play. We have a very young team and it’s just been a challenge every single match to just believe in ourselves, play with confidence and finish strong.”
The Lady Tigers have one goal, to be in the final tournament of the season in October.
“We want the postseason,” Vezina concluded. “We want to go to State this year. We can be 0-10 right now, and I would still be happy as long as they were fighting and finishing strong. I could care less about regular season soccer.”