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A three-week-old goal by sophomore Mackenzie Tyson was fresh enough to send Hunt High to a 1-0 victory over archrival Fike on Wednesday in the completion of a game that was halted April 8 due to lightning and thunderstorms.
The Lady Warriors posted their third straight shutout win, and seventh in their last eight games, as they finished 13-2 overall with 10 shutouts and 10-0 in the 3-A Big East Conference. Hunt head coach Richard Frazier said it’s the first time the Lady Warriors, who were 9-1 in the Big East last year, have gone unbeaten in conference play in at least a decade.
“Very proud to win the Big East title and go undefeated,” he said.
The make-up game at Fike, which celebrated its Senior Night, featured 63 scoreless minutes after Tyson’s goal 23 days ago. That was due, in large part, to the solid play of Hunt’s back line of freshman Kaley Gesell, senior Alea Jones, senior Miriam Herrera and junior Abigail Beamon in front of senior goalkeeper Rachel Cox.
“They’ve been big for us all year,” Frazier said.
Few forays by Fike went beyond the back line and Cox was there to scoop up quickly any balls that did. Because of that, Tyson’s 14th-minute goal off a pass from senior midfielder Camille Ruiz on April 8 loomed large.
“I did think that one goal would be enough with the way our defense has been playing but I thought we might be able to put one in,” Frazier said.
However, the Lady Demons (7-8-1, 6-3 Big East) weren’t about to let Hunt fire away at goalkeeper JahAsia Pernell, who was saluted at halftime with fellow seniors Jessa Holyoak and Elizabeth Thompson.
“Fike put numbers behind the ball,” Frazier explained. “We had some golden chances and just didn’t capitalize and that’s something we need to work on.”
Fike head coach Toni Varacchi was glad her team was able to keep pressuring Hunt.
“I’m just happy that the girls at Fike came to play,” she said. “It’s tough starting a game when you’re 15-20 minutes into it and it’s Senior Night and you’re already starting down a goal. But we did so much better as far as not giving them looks at the goal, uncontested shots.”
The Lady Warriors had some looks in the remainder of the first half but got better ones in the second. Kristen Armstrong’s shot inside the box was wide right and freshman Catherine Cranford sent one over the crossbar. Both Ruiz and Sophia Fox leveled shots directly at Pernell, who grabbed onto both as part of her six saves.
Cox also made six saves on her end.
The Lady Warriors took 10 corner kicks, but were unable to muster any decent chances out of them. Frazier was happy with his team’s possession, which he calculated at 75%.
“Overall, I was very pleased with the effort and the way we played,” he said.
Varacchi wasn’t displeased with her team’s effort, especially compared to the Lady Demons’ 2-0 loss at Hunt on April 18.
“We generated more offensive attack than we did last time,” she said.
But Fike’s loss means that the Lady Demons are facing a must-win Thursday in another make-up game at Franklinton. Fike is a half-game ahead of Rocky Mount for the No. 2 spot in the conference for the upcoming state playoffs. A win against the Red Rams would lock that up but a loss would imperil the seed since Fike and Rocky Mount split the regular-season series.