Mountaineers end spring season with win over Lees McRae


Taylor Ward

Sophomore midfielder Sarah Widderich prepares for a corner kick Sept. 9, 2022.

Sarah Kruger, Reporter

The women’s soccer spring season ended with a 3-1 victory for the Mountaineers against Lees McRae April 12 evening at the Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex. 

The Black and Gold opened scoring early in the match with the first goal coming after five minutes. Junior forward Izzi Wood continued her spring season scoring streak with a powerful, clean kick that sent the ball grazing past the gloves of the Bobcats’ goalkeeper into the top left hand corner of the net. 

Junior forward Breckyn Monteith put the Mountaineers up 2-0, netting the Black and Gold’s second goal midway through the second half. Monteith, on the outskirts of a 6-yard-box packed with white and green shirts alike, managed to get on the end of a corner kick, heading the ball into the top right hand corner of the box.

The final goal for App State came from Wood with just 20 minutes remaining in the match. She hit a clean strike into the top right corner of the net from just inside the 6-yard-box. With Wood’s decisive strike, the Mountaineers were up 3-0.   

The Bobcats made the score 3-1 when Taylor Barrineau put a quick ball into the goal as the result of a corner kick. 

The early score was indicative of the aggressive press the Mountaineers implemented from the first seconds of the match. As soon as the first whistle blew, App State soccer was rushing forward in an aggressive attack toward Lees McRae’s defensive third. 

Along with the press, the Mountaineers set a relentless, nigh on punishing pace. It was the combination of these two factors that led to an early goal. However, this aggressive, attacking style of soccer proved unsustainable; midway through the half, the energy diminished to be more labored. 

During the first half, the momentum began to shift. While the Mountaineers were up 1-0, it seemed as though Lees McRae were in no danger of seeing the goal differential increase. 

App State soccer fans present in the Valley noticed this shift in momentum as well. Interestingly enough, whereas in most professional soccer leagues, fans would be quick to turn on their own team, attributing troubles to poor management or bad players, App State soccer fans turned their wrath on to the referees. 

Badgering of referees in soccer is not a new phenomenon, but the relentless vitriol and juvenile trash-talk that cascaded from the stands sustained for most of the first and second halves. What’s more, the berating didn’t even appear to light a fire in the App State side; this shift in momentum occurred at the break. 

The Mountaineers appeared more invigorated when they returned for the second half and resumed their attacking press, not nearly as aggressively as in the first half. Both teams came into the second half prepared to do whatever it took to score. 

This was reflected in the slew of injuries sprinkled throughout the second half, one particularly nasty tackle on a Lees McRae midfielder occurring just outside of the App State technical area. 

There was a lot that App State soccer did well Wednesday evening. For one, it was experimenting with attacking soccer, particularly through a high press and an aggressive forward pace. What’s more, it seemed fairly adept at successfully implementing it. 

This builds on what head coach Aimee Haywood says her team has been working on since she was hired: moving from playing largely defensive soccer to attacking soccer. 

“I felt like we were good, in the fall, at controlling the game defensively,” Haywood said. “Now, we can try to add to that being able to control the game in possession as well, and I think we look a lot better in terms of that in the spring.”

Haywood said that App State soccer has learned a lot not just over the past fall season, but from these spring matches as well.

“I think it’s been a good opportunity for individual player development,” Haywood said. “We set out to do that in our offseason; we made a point that what we want to do is develop all the players that we had on the field.” 

This is a particularly useful course of action as App State soccer will be losing a fair few impactful players to graduation this season, not the least of which is Eagleston. However, the Mountaineers still have a fair bit of work ahead of them. Much of the Mountaineers’ success in the fall will come down to the development and integration of old and new players alike, and their ability to work together to achieve this success.