The Valdosta Daily Times
The Valdosta Wildcats outscored the visiting Cook Hornets 12-1 in a two-game sweep on Tuesday night to open the 2014 soccer season on a high note.
The Wildcats girls and boys won by scores of 7-0 and 5-1, respectively, at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium as they controlled both of their respective games throughout.
Valdosta's girls took on Cook in the first game and it did not take long for the game to get away from the Hornets. The Wildcats used crisp passes to keep the ball away from the Hornets as a 3-0 halftime lead became a runaway victory.
Despite the large margin of victory, Valdosta coach Brent Doughty would not go so far to say his team dominated its opponent in the regular season opener, instead focusing on where the ’Cats need to get better.
"I don't want to say that we necessarily dominated it," said Doughty. "We possessed the ball pretty much; we did some good passing tonight. We still have a lot of work to do, finishing and stuff, we need to take quicker shots, but I wouldn't call it domination, just a good game."
Valdosta captain Claire Kirkpatrick provided the Wildcats offense early on as the senior scored the game's first three goals for a first-half hat trick.
“Honestly, I don't know [how I scored a hat trick]," said Kirkpatrick. "I definitely wouldn't say it was just me. It was just great teamwork, everyone working together and just bringing what we did in practice to the game.”
With a 3-0 lead at intermission, the Wildcats extended their lead to four early in the second half thanks to a Hornets self-goal. Liana Ochos added two goals of her own and Samantha McLendon scored one to begin the season.
The Valdosta girls have won both games this season after a 2-0 preseason win against Fitzgerald on Feb. 6. The Wildcats’ next challenge comes Friday against Thomasville at home.
Cook boys 1
Valdosta's boys soccer team struggled in a 2-0 preseason loss to Fitzgerald on Feb. 6, and when Cook took an early lead, it looked like the Wildcats were in store for another long night. VHS, though, scored five unanswered goals to rout the Hornets on Tuesday.
According to Valdosta coach Derek Parten the difference in Tuesday's game was not hard to pinpoint.
“The intensity level,” said Parten. “We challenged them to pick up the intensity level and make quicker decisions and better decisions with the ball. We focused on that in training and that's what we did tonight.”
Cook scored in the sixth minute of the contest and clung to the 1-0 lead despite Valdosta's barrage of shots on goal.
Finally, on the Wildcats’ 14th shot of the night in the 29th minute, Collier Mutert tied the game up with Valdosta's first goal of the season.
With just three minutes left before halftime Alex Cosper added another Valdosta goal giving the Wildcats a 2-1 lead after the first half.
Once the second half began Valdosta continued to get shot after shot at Cook’s keeper, ultimately resulting in three more goals.
The difference in Valdosta boys’ performance Tuesday compared to last Thursday’s scrimmage looked like night and day as they were much more active.
"After this past Thursday's scrimmage we asked them to turn up the intensity a little bit and they responded," said Parten. "We've still got some work to do, but we're on the right track.
Valdosta will have the chance to test its progress Friday when Thomasville comes to town.