Highlands girls varsity soccer team defeats Blue Ridge

It was a gorgeous day for a soccer game as Highlands girls varsity took on rival Blue Ridge Early College on Thursday and walked away with a 4-0 win on the road. Highlands Head Coach Jeff Weller said for a young team they are beginning to really understand the game.

“We played well and controlled the game for much of the 80 minutes,” said Weller. “We had a lot of opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on, but we are getting there. Creating the opportunities consistently is a great step forward. Our defensive effort was really good today. We limited their chances and kept the ball on our offensive half for much of the game.”

BREC Kaitlyn Stewart goes for the header against Highlands Betty Garcia on Thursday in Cashiers. Highlands girls varsity soccer team beat BREC 0-4.

BREC Head Coach Nick Pressler said with each game he sees the team improving and it can take time.

“The defense looked better today, they sealed it up toward the end, but it’s still a work in progress,” said Pressler. “We need to be more aggressive and go to the ball. And even though the defense picked up in the second half, we got to figure out a way to score, that’s the hard part. We also have possession issues, that’s where we’re really lacking right now. But we’re a work in progress.”

From left are BREC Gracie Watson and Highlands Reese Schmitt racing for the ball on Thursday.

Highlands Reese Schmitt scored the first goal in the first 20 seconds of the game, beating a Highlands School record previously held by the boys soccer team of earliest goal at 22 seconds, said Weller. The next three goals were a hat trick by Highlands Betty Garcia.

“She (Garcia) played a very good game,” said Weller. “All of the girls did tonight. It was a goal of ours to start very aggressive and set the tone. The girls did that.”

In the foreground from left are Highlands Chela Green and BREC Devon Heenan on Thursday in Cashiers.

BREC Devon Heenan said they made some mistakes, but they’re also making strides in the right direction.

“Our defense was working really hard out there and communicating well,” said Heenan. “But our offense and midfield need some work. We can’t play kickball the whole time. We got to have a better offense if we want to score and win some games.”

Highlands Kedra McCall is back on the field after recovering from a sprained AC joint.

Kedra McCall returned from a sprained AC joint in her left shoulder and said the pain is minimal and she’s feeling good.

“I was really impressed with how we did today,” said McCall. “We need to work on some things, but we changed up our form on the D-line and it works.”

From left are Highlands Julia May Schmitt and BREC Maddy Potts chasing down a tipped pass at Blue Ridge on Thursday.

BREC Savannah Cohea said despite the scoreboard, the defense has improved getting it out of the hot zone, especially with the amount Highlands had possession of the ball.

“We did much better communicating with each other, and our defense has been better than it’s been in the past,” said Cohea. “But our offense really needs work right now.”

BREC Ali Minnihan brings the ball up the field on Thursday against Highlands.

BREC Ali Minnihan said they need to be more aggressive and attack the ball.

“I think we need a lot of work of just going to the ball,” said Minnihan. “A lot of us are afraid to get physical with other people, me included. It’s so much different than in practice, we need to get used to game settings.”

Highlands goalie Alyson Dayton and BREC Devon Heenan at the goal on Thursday at Blue Ridge.

Highlands Ella Crook said overall, they did pretty well, both on offense and defense.

“If feels good winning since we’ve lost our last few games,” said Crook. “But I think we need to work on finishing so we can score more goals.”

Highlands next plays at 4:30 p.m. on April 2 away at Tallulah Falls.

BREC next plays at 4:30 p.m. at home against Mount Pisgah Academy on April 3.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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