By BRIAN WOODSON
TAZEWELL, Va. —
There was a cold wind blowing at Bulldog Stadium on Tuesday evening, but at least it wasn’t raining or snowing and the grass was green, and not coated in white.
It was, indeed, a perfect evening for soccer.
No one enjoyed it more than Tazewell junior Tanner Catron, who overcame a pair of injuries in the game, to score the winning goal in a 2-1 non-district overtime win over Narrows.
“I felt like I had kicked it over the goal, but when it went in it felt great,” Catron said.
Tazewell (3-1), which played without three starters, overcame a 1-0 first half deficit to tie the score with 17 minutes left, and then won it with Catron’s kick with two minutes gone in the first of two five-minute overtime periods.
“They hung in and they played well.” Rasnick said. “Considering we have practiced one day in the last eight days or something because you can’t practice with snow on the ground.
“They’re playing positions they are not used to...three of our starters out. They adapted and they adjusted and played well. They never give up, they continued to press and shoot and it is a learning experience...”
Narrows (0-3) is a co-ed squad that took a 1-0 lead around 10 minutes into the first half when junior Jamie Scott made a perfect throw to sophomore Aaron Collins, who was able to kick the ball past Garrett Jessee, who had left the safety of the net to try and stop the shot attempt.
“We played pretty well, we lost to them the last time 4-2,” Narrows coach Dennis Kidd said. “We are mostly ninth graders and 10th graders so we are pretty young, but we are coming on.”
Narrows held that lead for much of the game, led by the solid play of goalkeeper Terrance Martin, and contributions in the middle from Green Wave girls’ team members Shana Davis and Sierra Ogden, along with Jackson Haymore and Dallas McKinney.
“A lot of their kids play up at East River, and they play some pretty good soccer,” Rasnick said. “I was pleased, our level continues to go higher each year. If we can keep improving and getting the little things done we will be all right.”
Tazewell had their chances, led by Catron, freshman Corey Brewster, Cody McCann — one of just three seniors on the roster — Nathan Cline and Juwan Jordan, but Martin continued to stymie the Bulldogs.
“He does a good job,” Kidd said. “This is his first year playing so he does real well.”
Catron admitted to being a little concerned by the deficit as the second half progressed, but never gave up on his Bulldogs, who tied the score at 1-1 on a goal by McCann, who slapped the ball past Martin with about 17 minutes left in the game.
“Yeah a little bit, but we knew we had to stick together,” Catron said. “We had a chance to come back and we just fought through and came back.”
Much like Narrows, Tazewell’s roster is full of youth with 13 of its 23 players being sophomores and freshmen.
“At one time or another we had as many as five freshmen on the field, the goalie is a sophomore, so maybe we had two or three juniors and then Cody is a senior so everybody else was freshmen and sophomores,” Rasnick said. “They are doing well, I am pleased with how we are coming.”
Catron paid the price for the win, limping off the field after the game having suffered a couple of injuries, but he was able to get some much-needed rest and treatment before the overtime period began.
“I got kicked in the shin a couple of times and toward the end of the game my legs started cramping,” Catron said. “During the break they stretched me out and put some Icy-Hot on there and I was feeling pretty good.”
Catron, whose sister, Taylor, was a standout performer for the Tazewell girls basketball team, refused to let his weary legs take him out of the game.
“It is hard, but I wanted to get the ‘W’ so I just kept playing through it,” said Catron, whose Bulldogs travel to Kingsport, Tenn., for a game on Saturday, and will host Abingdon in their Southwest District opener on April 12.
In the first overtime period, Catron got loose from the Narrows defense and kicked the ball toward the goal, sailing the ball over Martin’s outstretched hands and dropping it into the back of the net with just over two minutes left.
Narrows was nearly able to tie the score in the second overtime period when Haymore connected for a goal, but offsides was called against the Green Wave.
“Our defense turned around backwards on the other side and gave them too much on that one shot and it went in, but I am proud of them,” said Kidd, whose Green Wave will host Giles tonight and will open Mountain Empire District action against Graham on April 15. “They played really hard, they didn’t let their heads down, and they are tough.”
Rasnick figured much of the issue for Catron was cramps, but was glad to see him — and his Bulldogs — tough it out and pull out the win.
“I don’t know how much it was injury as it was cramps,” Rasnick said. “This time of year, and you can’t make the kids understand, cramps are worse of a problem this time of year then when it is hot because your body is churning twice as much and they don’t drink...and then you are battling cramps at the end.
“He is tough, he continued and he wound up getting the game-winner there at the end and that is what it takes. You have to battle through it.”
—Contact Brian Woodson