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Battle edges Gate City in Region 2D girls final

By PAT KENNEY, Sports Correspondent • May 31, 2019 at 10:20 PM

BRISTOL, Va. — In a match that had a little bit of everything, Melina Turner’s goal in the 65th minute lifted John Battle to a 1-0 win over Gate City in the Region 2D girls soccer final on Friday at Sugar Hollow Park.

The Lady Trojans (19-0-2) earned the right to host James River in the VHSL Class 2 quarterfinals on Tuesday.

The Lady Blue Devils (14-3-4) must travel to Radford for a 6 p.m. match on Tuesday.

HITCH IN THE PROCEEDINGS

Weather and field conditions made the match a stop-and-go affair.

Two minutes into the contest, the skies opened and a torrential downpour drenched the pitch. The rain was so heavy that the center referee was forced to halt the match at the 15-minute mark because of unplayable conditions for the Gate City goalkeeper.

There was a 30-minute delay in play while officials from John Battle went back to the school and returned with sand to alleviate the muddy conditions in the goalmouth.

Finally, the Mountain 7 District rivals returned to the pitch and play resumed under clearing skies.

BACK TO THE ACTION

John Battle had the best of play in the first half with four shots on goal. But Gate City sophomore goalkeeper Brooklyn Smith overcame the muddy mess and stopped each of the attempts.

The first half came to a scoreless end with the sun making a welcome return.

The Lady Blue Devils picked up the pace in the second half, putting more and more pressure on the Battle defenders. The Lady Trojans responded with a counterattack that saw Turner race through the Gate City defense and fire a shot that found nothing but net.

“I worked my way through their defense and saw a gap,” said Turner, a senior. “I went to my left foot and shot it just inside the right post.”

With just 15 minutes left to play and trailing 1-0, Gate City increased the pace and had several good runs but just could not get the ball into the net.

“We had the looks,” said Gate City coach Mario Jaramillo. “They just couldn’t finish.”

Smith finished with 10 saves, two from point-blank range.

FINAL SAY

John Battle coach Colleen Shirey breathed a sigh of relief when the final whistle blew.

“It took us so long to finally score,” Shirey said. “It was a well-fought game by both teams. I’m just glad we got that goal and ended this in regulation.”

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