KINGSPORT — When asked at intermission who scored Sullivan Central’s first-half goal Tuesday, a pair of Lady Cougars representatives at the team’s bench area racked their brains but couldn’t come up with a last name.
“It was No. 17, uh, Rylie ... uh, sorry, ... having one of those moments,” one of the teenagers said sheepishly about her teammate.
No. 17 is Rylie Patrick, a reticent soccer star at Central and one Three Rivers Conference rival Sullivan South knows way too much about after the junior delivered three goals and an assist in the 4-1 road win over the Lady Rebels.
“Rylie is a very skilled player who has finally gained the confidence she needs to be a leader and a captain of this team,” veteran Central coach Emily Robinette said. “She’s a quiet person, but she’s beginning to get a confidence that’s serving her well, to speak up more and play harder.”
COUGARS BREAK LOOSE
With the game tied 1-1 at halftime, Central (3-3, 1-0) owned the last 40 minutes behind the slick game of Patrick, whose corner kick perfectly set up Noemi Morales for a tap-in goal from in close, giving the Lady Cougars a 2-1 edge with 31:53 to play.
“We made changes at halftime with our formation and that’s what really helped us,” Robinette said. “Also, I felt like we had a little depth advantage and that we were able to keep our kids a bit fresher than South’s.
“South’s a big rivalry for us and this was big to win our conference opener.”
With Central up 2-1, the 5-foot-7 Patrick blasted in goals in the game’s 53rd and 67th minutes, demonstrating a bit of fancy footwork on the last.
“I just have really good teammates that pass the ball really well,” Patrick allowed, deflecting credit. “We just work together really good.”
South drew even just before halftime when Abby Clark scored on a point-blank penalty kick with 32.8 seconds on the clock.
But otherwise, Central keeper Kylie Harrison had a quiet afternoon in goal.
“Central played really well,” South coach Luci Creech said. “They were able to find each other while we played a lot of kickball it seemed, but we’ll get better.
“We’ve got a small squad (in terms of numbers), so it’s hard to sub in and out to provide instruction and give them rest. I have a really interesting mix of girls and they are great girls, but we’ve got some growing to do.”