KINGSPORT — A relentless offense and a smothering defense led Dobyns-Bennett to the Region 1-AAA girls soccer championship on Thursday night at Indian Highland Park.
The Lady Indians, behind a hat trick from senior Katie Clark, overwhelmed Sullivan South 6-0 for the crown.
D-B (16-3-1) will host Knox West on Saturday at noon in the sectional round. The Lady Rebels (9-7-1) must travel to face third-ranked Oak Ridge.
Saturday’s winners advance to the TSSAA state tournament, to be held Nov. 4-5, 7 in Chattanooga. A season ago, D-B made it to the state semifinals.
The Lady Indians wasted little time establishing themselves as the team to beat Thursday. Just three minutes into the contest, D-B’s Gina Strickland found the back of the net off a pass from Kara Brockwell.
Clark made the score 2-0 in the 17th minute on a brilliant run through the Lady Rebs’ defense. After clearing the last defender, Clark blasted the ball over defenseless South goalkeeper Lauren Stuart.
South battled to keep the game close for the remainder of the opening 40 minutes, but could not find an answer for D-B’s vaunted attack or defense.
“That quick goal set the tone of the game,’’ said South assistant Chad Smelscer. “And we had such a hard time controlling the ball. Soccer is a game of mistakes. D-B had very few and made us pay for ours.’’
Led by senior Jackie Feldman, the Lady Indians’ defense held South to just one shot on goal — which arrived in the 60th minute.
“We worked hard to keep South away from our goal,’’ said Feldman. “Only one shot, that’s pretty good.’’
Amy Oreskovic continued the Tribe’s onslaught with a goal eight minutes into the second half.
Clark added two more tallies, in the 53rd and 57th minutes, and Brockwell found the net in the 63rd minute for the final margin of victory.
D-B cleared its bench a minute later and continued to dominate.
“We played really solid tonight,’’ D-B head coach Shane Calvert said. “The whole team did their jobs tonight.’’
Clark pointed to her defense as the key to the outcome.
“Scoring early relaxed us,’’ Clark said. “We can depend so much on our defense that it allows us to run free up front.’’
Calvert knows that a return to the state tournament is enhanced by hosting Saturday’s sectional match.
“Playing at home is huge,’’ he said. “No matter who you play, there are 16 teams left now and everyone will be tough to beat. Getting to play at home is big. We just have to take advantage of the opportunity.’’