By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
EAST RIVER —
Distractions are part of spring sports, with proms, senior trips and other activities taking place at the same time.
The Graham G-Girls decided to get back to work on Tuesday night, defeating Galax 8-0 in a Mountain Empire District match on Senior Night at East River Soccer Complex.
Morgan Whisman scored three goals and had two assists and Whitney Browning added two goals and one assist for the G-Girls (10-3). Kali Furry and Liz Workman also scored, and the Maroon Tide (2-13) never threatened either Carolyn Springman or McKenzie Meade in goal.
“We kind of had a recommitment to the season tonight,” Graham girls coach Hank Furry said. “I felt like we have had a lot of distractions in the last few weeks and we had a little team meeting and decided it was time to get refocused on the season in front of us and start the season fresh tonight.”
Graham attacked from the start, with Browning scoring off a deflected stop by Galax goalkeeper Trinece Bryson just over five minutes into the game. Browning and Whisman scored two goals each for the 4-0 lead, and Kali Furry added a goal for the 5-0 halftime advantage.
“We enjoy playing teams on this field because of its size,” Furry said. “We practice toward the strength of this field and we are real hard to play on this field,”
The G-Girls added three more goals after the break by Workman, an own goal, and a third Whisman goal that ended the game with 14:34 left to go.
Graham, which reached the Group A state championship game last season, is excited for the postseason that begins in two weeks.
“Right now the mission for us is to get a good seed in the region and get back to the regional championship and get to that first round of the state,” said Furry, whose G-Girls will host the Region C girls tournament.
The only two girls soccer teams in the MED, Graham wrapped up the regular season, having also beaten the Maroon Tide 4-0 last week.
Galax 5, Graham 2
EAST RIVER — Galax remained unbeaten on the season, scoring three second half goals to improve to 12-0.
“I hope we are peaking at the right time, I hope we continue to improve,” Galax head coach Troy Barkley said. “We haven’t talked a lot about being 12-0, I try not to bring it up. We try to play just one game at a time and just try to improve everyday is what we are working towards.”
Forrest Yates scored his second goal of the game just two 1:33 into the second half to tie the score at 2-2, but Junior Espinosa scored on a left-footed kick just three minutes later, and Andres Medina banged in the rebound off a terrific stop of a penalty kick by Hunter Cook to expand the lead.
“I felt like we played a great game, I felt like the boys played hard, a couple of penalty kicks hurt us and they capitalized on them,” Graham head coach George Aiello said. “’Cookie’ did a great job on the goal, even one of the saves on the penalty kick, and to give up the rebound hurt
“I don’t think the score is indicative of how well we played.”
Galax went up 1-0 when Jacob Metcalfe ran over Espinosa in the box, and Espinosa made the penalty shot. Graham answered when Samuel Stowers nailed a free kick at 50 yards, with the ball deflecting off Alex Aiello’s head and right off Yates’ head past Mesial Solis in goal.
“That was a great goal. Sammy put that ball probably close to 50 yards in the air, and Forrest just tapped it in right in off his head into the goal for our first goal,” George Aiello said.
Espinosa scored again when he drilled a shot that deflected off Cook and hit the back of the net for the 2-1 lead at the break. Yates then scored on a 35-yard free kick that sailed off Solis’ head to tie the score at 2-2 with 38:27 left in the game.
“We came out after halftime and said we wanted to get a goal quick and then boys responded,” Aiello said, “and the first two minutes of the half we turned it around and scored.”
Galax then scored the final three goals, one by Espinosa and two from Andres Medina. Graham could never get another shot past Solis.
Graham (6-3-1), which will host Abingdon tonight, showed improvement after dropping a 3-1 decision at Galax last week.
“I am pleased with where we are at, we are 6-3-1 now and that is a good team that we played tonight,” Aiello said. “They are 12-0 now so I am pleased with how my boys played.
“We played much better tonight here at East River than we did when we played down there last week at Galax so I am very pleased with how we played.”
Aiello is hoping Graham will get another shot at the Maroon Tide in the MED tournament slated to be held at Fort Chiswell in two weeks.
“We have to be ready for district play,” Aiello said, “and hopefully we will get another chance at playing Galax in district.”
Ten G-Girls and six Graham boys were honored on Senior Night between games.
—Contact Brian Woodson