WHITE HOUSE White House High girls head soccer coach Mike Felzien is familiar with seeing his program win in the regional semifinal round.
The Lady Devils did just that for the fourth consecutive season on Tuesday evening, but Felzien witnessed it from a significantly different vantage point.
Felzien was in the hospital as the Lady Devils pulled away late for a 4-1 victory over visiting Hume-Fogg in a Region 5 A-AA Tournament semifinal.
“It was very weird,” White House sophomore defender Hannah Cook said of Felzien not being in attendance. “He called us on the phone before (the match began), and he gave us our normal pregame (talk). Then, at halftime, he talked to us.
“We wanted to win for him.”
Felzien suffered a scratch on his leg while moving one of the soccer goals a few weeks ago. A severe infection gradually set in and worsened, and he was hospitalized on Saturday.
However, Felzien – who is in his 18th season at the helm of the program – hopes to be in attendance on Thursday when the Lady Devils host cross-town rival White House Heritage for the third time this season in the regional championship match. The Lady Patriots reached the region final with a 2-1 victory at Lipscomb Academy in Tuesday evening’s other region semifinal.
“It was different,” White House sophomore Madeline Hargrove said. “We’re used to (Felzien) always being here and talking to us. He still talked to us on the phone.”
Lady Devil assistant coach Shawn Showalter led the team on Tuesday evening.
When Felzien wasn’t talking to his players before the match and at halftime, he watched the match via FaceTime, a video calling system.
He must have enjoyed the outcome moreso than the last time the two programs met, a 1-0 loss in overtime on the Lady Knights’ home field in last year’s Region 5 A-AA championship match. That forced White House to go on the road for its sectional match (a 3-2 loss at Spring Hill), while Hume-Fogg won its sectional match (a 4-0 victory over visiting Fairview) to advance to the Class A-AA State Tournament.
“I remember last year,” Hargrove said. “We wanted to make sure it didn’t happen again.”
Cook added, “We wanted to beat them. We wanted to come out and play our hardest, not taking anything lightly and play the way we did last week against Heritage (in a 5-1 win in the District 9 A-AA Tournament championship match). We talked to the freshmen about it, how they beat us 1-0 in double overtime. We don’t want to lose that way this year.”
The Lady Devils scored just 2:18 into Tuesday’s rematch, with freshman midfielder Leanna Nesbitt playing a through-ball that senior forward Brittney Breedlove ran on to. Breedlove slid an unmarked shot inside the left post.
“It makes it easier to dominate,” Cook said of the early conversion. “It makes it easier to get our heads in the game.”
In the 46th minute, Breedlove ran on to another through ball as sophomore goalkeeper Gracie Phillips arrived. Phillips couldn’t maintain possession, and sophomore forward Madisson Davis poked the loose ball into the empty net.
Hume-Fogg (7-11-2) responded approximately nine minutes later when sophomore Parker Smitherman played a ball into the box that was headed in by freshman Abbey Jackson.
Breedlove had a goal disallowed 11 seconds later due to an offsides call, but White House (14-3-3) was able to extend the lead, adding two goals over the final four minutes.
Freshman midfielder Shelby Deering played a through-ball up to Hargrove, who outraced an oncoming Phillips to the ball and placing a shot into the empty net.
“We had to step it up and connect on our passes and try to control the midfield,” Hargrove – who headed a free kick by Davis off of the crossbar in the 71st minute – said.
Then, 92 seconds later, Breedlove played a ball ahead to Davis for a breakaway. Phillips came out to play the ball, but Davis managed to gain possession and place it into the empty net.
The Lady Devils won their sixth consecutive match. White House hasn’t lost since suffering a 6-1 setback to visiting Harpeth Hall on Sept. 8, having compiled an 11-0-1 record over that stretch.
With Tuesday’s win, White House also earned a spot in one of the eight Class A-AA sectional matches, which will be played on Saturday. Sectional winners advance to the state tournament.
“It’s exciting,” Hargrove said. “We always anticipate winning. When we do win, everybody is really happy. We play our hardest to go to the next round.”
Cook attributes much of the success to the team’s chemistry.
“We love each other,” Cook said. “We treat each other with respect. We defend each other.”
Hargrove added, “We make sure to have team bonding and team meals together, anything to (build) chemistry.”
Reach Craig Harris at 615-575-7138 or on Twitter @HarrisGNESports.