By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Greenbrier East presented Shady Spring’s injury-depleted defense with a tough question Tuesday night.
“How do you stop so many weapons?”
The Tigers played well early, but the talented Spartans slowly pulled away for a 5-0 victory at Paul Cline Stadium.
“Once we got the wind knocked out of us, they kept scoring,” coach Rachel Kincaid said. “We don’t have enough players to play a strong offense and defense.”
Shady (6-12-1), battered by injuries all season, had three starters — Brooke Cogar, Ali Kaminski and Alexis DeMoss — playing at far from peak efficiency.
East (10-4), on the other hand, had nearly its full complement of offensive players, and each was heavily involved in the offense.
The Spartans took 11 shots on goal, by six different players, to just two for Shady (both by all-stater Lyndsey Thompson).
Ashton Holliday scored twice in the first half, and Brianne Coles found the back of the net on two shots in a two-minute stretch in the second stanza to put the game out of reach.
Both Holliday and Coles are seniors and four-year veterans.
“They play a lot of travel and indoor soccer,” first-year coach Sean Acord said. “Soccer is the primary sport for both of them.”
The third starter up front is Shae West, a junior and the team’s leading scorer the past two seasons. She’s been hampered this year by injuries.
Freshman Chelsey Midkiff added the final East goal on a penalty kick in the 71st minute.
East’s underclassman-dominated defense recorded its fourth shutout of the season. The Spartans have outscored foes 48-19.
Defenders included freshmen Mikayla Carter, Claire Gibson and Claire Perkins, sophomore Erin Johnson (also a midfielder) and juniors Lauren Perkins and Shaye Gadomski (who was out with an injury).
Goalkeeper Hannah Bolt is a three-year starter for the Spartans.
The midfielders are junior Lauren Prevett in the center and primarily Paige Acord and Mikayla Keen on the outside.
“We have a lot of depth,” Acord said. “We’re six-deep on the bench, and we rotate a lot of players in.”
The Spartans have had several matches canceled by former MSAC opponents. East left the MSAC after last season.
They’ll be seeded No. 1 in the Class AAA Region 3, Section 3 tournament, which begins next week in Fairlea. East gave Princeton its only loss, 2-0 on Aug. 30, and has also defeated Woodrow Wilson (2-1), Oak Hill (5-0) and Shady (4-1 and 5-0).
“We’ll have home field advantage throughout sectionals,” Acord said. “This is the first time we have been No. 1 seed, and we’re on pace for the best record we’ve ever had in the regular season.”
The Spartans play at 5 p.m Thursday at Oak Hill, and will conclude the regular season Saturday at Huntington.
Shady’s final regular-season match is at 5 p.m. Thursday at PikeView.
Sectionals begin Monday, when the Tigers and Oak Hill meet in a play-in game. The winner will take on the Spartans Tuesday in Fairlea.
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Greenbrier East 5, Shady Spring 0
Scoring: GE Ashton Holliday (24th minute, nearest player to SS own goal), Holliday (31), Brielle Coles (58), Coles (59), Chelsey Midkiff (penalty kick, 71). Shots on goal: GE 11 (Lauren Perkins, Holliday 3, Lauren Prevett 1, Coles 3, Katie Ervin, Midkiff 2), SS 2 (Lyndsey Thompson 2). Keeper saves: GE 2 (Hannah Bolt 2), SS 6 (Kristian Deemer 5, Kaitlin Hargis 1). Corner kicks: GE 5, SS 0. Cards: None.