The Gordon Central Lady Warriors focused on shutting Hicks down Thursday night, but unfortunately for them, that left fellow senior Lauren Hawkins wide open.
Hawkins took advantage with two beautiful first-half goals and Hicks added a solo tally in the second half as the Lady Panthers downed Gordon Central 3-1.
“Lauren had a great game,” said head coach Mary Sickler. “She had some beautiful shots out there.”
Hawkins got Ridgeland on the board in the fourth minute of the game, taking a pass from Lauren Grant at the top of the 18-yard box and sending it into the right hand corner of the net.
Her second goal 20 minutes later was even more spectacular as she lined up from 15 yards out and navigated a tough angle to send the ball over the outstretched fingertips of the Central keeper and into the top left corner of the goal.
Hicks would not be shutout however as she got into the act in the 65th minute, making a nice move on the end line and squeezing a shot between the keeper and the side of the goal.
The Lady Warriors lone goal came on a penalty kick in the 69th minute. Their best scoring chance of the night came three minutes later, but was thwarted by a great save by Emily Massey at point-blank range.
The Lady Panthers outshot Gordon Central 14-6 on the night.
“We’re starting to come together and passing better,”
Hawkins suggested. “If we continue to get better and work hard, we can make a run at the playoffs, but we still have some good teams to compete with.”
Sickler praised freshman Tiffany Smith for her efforts on defense.
“She played an awesome game at sweeper,” Sickler added. “It’s big for a freshman to step up in leadership position like that. She’s got a lot of confidence and she’s playing well.”
In the second game of the night, the Ridgeland boys thoroughly dominated the Warriors, outshooting them 27-2 in a 5-0 win.
Jody Bruning scored two goals for the second straight game. His first came at the 10-minute mark off assists from Carlos Soriano and Will Kinard. His second came five minutes later on a nice assist from Paul Flynn.
Chris Doolittle added a penalty kick in the 32nd minute to put Ridgeland up 3-0 at the half.
The second half was more of the same as the Panthers controlled the action for the majority of the clock.
Flynn added a goal in the 56th minute and Chris Secrease enjoyed a fullback’s dream, scoring from 60 yards out on a long free kick in the 70th minute. Secrease preserved the shutout with a great kick save in the closing seconds.
“I didn’t expect to win by this much,” said Ridgeland head coach Daniel Ray. “This was a good game for us. We got to play a lot of people that don’t normally see a lot of playing time. We made a few changes which have helped. We moved Drew Holley to sweeper and that has made a world of difference.”
However, the thrill of the win was quickly doused the following night as the Ridgeland girls lost at Ringgold.
Injuries once again hurt the Lady Panthers as they fell 6-1. Hicks scored the lone goal for Ridgeland, now 3-5 overall and 1-3 in region play.
The results of the Ridgeland boys’ game at Ringgold were not available at press time.
LHS splits at Southeast
The LaFayette soccer teams made a Friday trip to Dalton to battle the Southeast Whitfield Raiders in a Region 7-AAAA matchup. The two teams garnered a split with the Lady Ramblers winning 6-0 and the Rambler boys dropping a 12-2 decision.
Miranda Caheely celebrated her birthday with a hat trick. Whitney Brown made her first start of the season following a foot injury and scored two goals. Casey Eady also returned from an injury to score one.
Trisha Smith and Jennifer Jackson combined in goal for the shutout for the Lady Ramblers (6-3, 2-1).
In the boys’ game, Noah Turner and Casey Payne each scored for LaFayette (2-6, 0-3) but it was not nearly enough as the Raiders took the win.
LaFayette will host Ringgold on Tuesday before traveling to county rival Ridgeland on Thursday in the last matches before spring break