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Girls soccer escapes Decatur with 2-1 win

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Grady’s victory at Decatur was the Knights’ first road win over the Bulldogs in a long time. Photo by Grace Madlem.

BY GRACE MADLEM AND MADY McDANIEL

It was Wednesday Night Lights last week as the Grady girls soccer team traveled to Decatur in a game marked with much excitement and anticipation because it rekindled one of its most storied rivalries. The anticipation was made only greater when the game was rained out on its orginal date on the schedule, April 17.

Although Grady hadn’t beaten Decatur playing on its home field in many years, the Grady girls emerged with a 2-1 victory that brought the team’s record to 10-7 at the close of its regular season.

The first half was scoreless but eventful. With 35:08 remaining in the first half, Decatur pressed forward with a promising offensive attack that created multiple well-strategized attempts for goals. Grady goalie Sam Bowie, a senior, made excellent saves, however, swiftly guiding the ball back to the opponent’s side. With 30 minutes remaining, Grady was able to take the ball all the way to the Decatur goal but barely missed on several scoring chances that would have been stunning had they been converted. Throughout the half, Grady was called for offsides on several occasions, one indication of the team’s aggressive play. Two standout players on the Grady side were Lily Soto, No. 3, and Alex Fairley, No. 8.

At the 12-minute mark, both teams picked up their game a little bit, each just nearly missing the opponent’s goal. At the end of the half, the game was still scoreless, and both sides looked equally exhausted.

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Lucy Soto’s goal to break a scoreless tie, and Alex Fairley’s game winner were scored in the second half under the lights at Decatur. Photo by Grace Madlem.

The second half began with renewed fervor as both sides attempted to break through with the first goal. Decatur took many corner kicks, resulting in several goal scoring chances, but as they pressed forward, the home team’s overly aggressive play led to several goal scoring opportunities for Grady to strike back on the counter attack. With 29 minutes remaining in the game, Soto scored the game’s first goal, assisted by junior Grace Dusenbury. Grady didn’t have much time to relax, however, because less than two minutes later, at the 27.24 mark, Decatur scored to knot the game at 1. At the 26:24 mark, Decatur nearly took its first lead, but another save by Bowie kept the score tied. With just over 22 minutes remaining, Grady took possession of the ball and advanced it up the field. A wonderful array of passes, and an excellent corner kick by junior Gracie Griffith, helped Fairley score the game-winner.  Throughout the match, Fairley was constantly moving, playing aggressive soccer. She had been vying for a goal the whole game, and when she finally scored it, she sealed the win for her team. On her scoring run she rushed up the field, moving past Decatur’s defense and scored, causing cheers to erupt from the stands.

The last 20 minutes of the game left Grady fans on the edge of their seats as Grady carefully held its ground. The Bulldogs desperately tried to score to tie the game, but each of their attempts at pressing forward were thwarted. Bowie made several great saves on solid shots on goal by Decatur. With five minutes left, Decatur almost scored an equalizer, but Bowie caught the ball as it was about to enter Grady’s net. With 1.30 left on the clock, Decatur made one more well-played attempt at the Grady goal, which Bowie quickly intercepted. The Grady fans cheered as the clock ran out and Grady escaped its rival’s home stadium with a hard-fought 2-1 victory.

Decatur ended its regular season with a 10-6-1 record. They are a solid team, which makes this win by the Grady girls all the more impressive. The Grey Knights ended their season with a win on the road, coming out on top against an evenly matched team. This was the last regular season for the team’s seniors, and they left everything on the field.

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Girls soccer escapes Decatur with 2-1 win