Midfielder Madison Mitchell along with Campbell County strikers, Kylie Ivey, Kylee Suttles and Jessa Riggs.

By Amber Cowell

TAZEWELL, TN (WLAF) – The regular soccer season came to a close for the Lady Cougars Thursday evening as they traveled to Claiborne County to battle the Bulldogs. See the full photo gallery HERE.

The match began with high intensity soccer play on both sides of the pitch.  Claiborne struck first with a quick goal in the 5th minute, less than three minutes later, however, Addison Dykes pushed the ball forward to the awaiting foot of striker Kylie Ivey and she evened the score.

Claiborne County regained the lead in the 14th minute, not dissuaded, the Cougars went on the attack and again, Ivey was able to even the score at two when the Claiborne keeper failed to wrap up the ball on an attempted save.

During the 23rd minute Claiborne scored, but again Campbell County would not be denied. Kylee Suttles earned a goal less than one minute later tying the match 3-3 to go into the half.

 Freshman midfielder Alejandra Fernandez clears the ball for Campbell during Thursdays matchup.

Claiborne County has been a physical opponent in years past and this proved true for the 2023 season as well.  Physicality is part of the game of soccer, but there are rules to be followed and lines that should not be crossed. During the match there were multiple non-calls by the officials for blatant fouls, and several Lady Cougars were shoved to the ground.  For the small percentage of fouls that were called, there were no yellow cards awarded although they were warranted.  Several Lady Cougars had to be subbed out to be checked by the athletic trainer as well as for bloody noses.

As the second half began, the Lady Cougars took a few minutes to get their bearings and were unable to stop Claiborne from scoring in the 42nd minute.  This early score seemed to wake the Cougar squad, and the next twenty minutes found each team battling for shots on goal while the defense for both squads successfully squelched the attempts.  

Lady Cougar Junior forward Kylie Ivey earned a hat trick in the last regular season game.

One strategy for the Claiborne defense was to draw the Cougar strikers off sides. This proved successful in that several breakaways by the forwards and accurate crosses would prove futile as play was stopped for off side infractions.  During the 62nd minute Claiborne built its lead to 5-3.

At this point, Campbell County began to play more aware while traveling down the field to stay on side.  This attention to play allowed Kylie Ivey to earn a hat trick in the match bringing the score 5-4 in the 74th minute.

With mere minutes to go, Campbell began to scramble.  In what looked to be the last drive, Claiborne cleared the ball.  Campbell County regained control of the ball and Jessa Riggs began to dart to the goal.  The crowd began to countdown from 10 and with 7 seconds to go Riggs made it past the last defender and took her shot.  Riggs’ shot proved successful as the ball passed the goal line.  

In what would be the most controversial call of the game if not the season, the official blew the whistle after the ball crossed the line and proclaimed time had expired before the goal deeming the match over with Campbell County losing 5-4.

The District Tournament begins Saturday, October 7, with Campbell County playing district leader Powell. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 10/06/2023-6AM)