HENDERSONVILLE The Hendersonville High girls soccer team has made it a point to reach the region finals in recent years, and this season will be no exception.
The Lady Commandos jumped out to a 5-0 lead on visiting Henry County and held off a late Lady Patriot rally to secure a 5-3 victory in Tuesday’s Region 5-AAA Tournament semifinals at Drakes Creek Park’s Field of Dreams.
It was a bit of a rusty start in the first half, but the Lady Commandos (11-4-4) picked it up to lead
3-0 at halftime on goals from juniors Erica Hudson and Sydney Cason, along with sophomore Brooke Long.
“You could tell that it was last Thursday since we played,” Hendersonville head coach Russ Plummer said. “We had to work some kinks out and go from there. Hope things will be a little sharper tomorrow.”
Long opened the scoring, converting off a feed from classmate Haley Stevens in the 14th minute.
“We definitely made connections really well,” Long said. “We were looking for the good ball.”
Cason added to the lead in the 18th minute, cashing in on a penalty kick.
Hudson took a pass from senior Layne Massey and gave the Lady Commandos a 3-0 lead with 1:18 left in the first half.
Cason scored her second goal just 29 seconds into the second half, striking from nearly 30 yards away, and senior Barrett Baugh tapped in a rebound after following up Long’s initial shot in the 49th minute.
With 22 minutes to play, Plummer had all of his starters out of the match for good, in an effort to give his veteran players some extra rest before Wednesday’s championship match.
“We were definitely making sure we were ready for tomorrow, because it’s back-to-back games,” Long said. “We need to make sure we have good legs.”
The Lady Patriots scored twice in a span of 3:30 against the Lady Commando reserves, with Ansley Cate and Gabby Pack converting for Henry County (13-4-2). Gracie Clayton pulled the Lady Patriots within two goals with 8:44 left, but Plummer was willing to let his substitutes finish the job.
“We had the 5-0 lead and we wanted to try and create some additional rest for tomorrow,” Plummer said. “Give credit to Henry County. They stuck with it.”
Long added, “It was (nerve-racking), but we knew that our defense would pick it up. We knew everything was going to be fine.”
The Lady Commandos clinched their fifth consecutive trip to the region final with the victory. The last time Hendersonville failed to do so was in 2010, when Henry County blocked their path by handing them a 2-0 defeat in the region semifinals.
Clarksville will face the Lady Commandos as the opponent for the fourth consecutive season for the region title. The Lady Wildcats have won the last three region titles, and are the defending Class AAA state champions. Clarksville defeated the Lady Commandos 3-0 on Sept. 17.
“We’ve definitely prepared,” Long said. “We’ve played them and it’ll be good to play them again.”
Hendersonville will also participate in one of eight Class AAA sectional matches on Saturday evening, against either Independence or Brentwood.
With Region 6-AAA playing its semifinals on Monday and the final on Wednesday, it necessitated back-to-back nights for Region 5-AAA, since any date change from the default schedule set by the TSSAA (Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association) would require an unanimous vote – and Region 5 did not get one – from all four region participants’ head coaches.
“Region 6 is playing tomorrow night, too,” Plummer said. “Nobody will have the advantage there (of an additional day of rest before the sectional round).”
Reach Chris Brooks at 615-575-7118 or on Twitter @CB_SumnerSports.