Craig Harris/Macon County Times Macon County High senior midfielder Jamie Ashburn approaches the goal as Greenbrier senior Morgan Shelton converges.

Craig Harris/Macon County Times

Macon County High senior midfielder Jamie Ashburn approaches the goal as Greenbrier senior Morgan Shelton converges.

LAFAYETTE - Macon County High School girls head soccer coach Terrance Pryor wanted to challenge his team by playing tough competition prior to the team opening district play.

It seemed to be paying off on Sept. 4 as the Tigerettes traveled to Greenbrier for their district opener and left Dick Strong Memorial Field with a 6-0 victory over the Lady Bobcats.

"It helped us to learn to communicate, play more as a team, work well together and to know what's coming up and be ready for it," Macon County sophomore defender Chloe Carver said of the competition that the team has faced.

It was the District 9-AA opener for both teams.

Macon County entered the contest with a 1-3-1 record.

"The biggest thing is that it showed us where we're at," Pryor said. "To compete against a Merrol Hyde (Magnet) or a Sayre (School, from Lexington, Kentucky), we have to be mentally locked in.

"We know what our strengths are. We're really good on the counter attack. Our weakness at times tends to be transitioning. We don't always transition like we want … but the biggest thing is that we didn't lose confidence. For us to be as successful as we can be, we have to be able to put together a full 80 minutes. Last year, it was our second-to-last game before I felt like played a full 80. At some point, I think it will show."

The Tigerettes scored less than three minutes into the match, but then, Macon County wasn't able to convert on an onslaught of shots over the next 20-plus minutes.

"When you're up and you're struggling, it's tense," Carver said. "It's like, 'Oh my gosh … Keeley (Carter, the team's leading scorer) is going to score.' It's really suspenseful."

In the early stages of the match, Macon County senior Jamie Ashburn played a ball from near the end line on the left side of the goal across the box. Sophomore teammate Josie McCall redirected the cross into the right side of the goal at the 37:55 mark.

However, Macon County didn't score again for more than 22 minutes.

"We probably didn't do a very good job in the first half of taking the game as serious as we should have," Pryor said. "We came in expecting to win, and I'm not sure we were wanting to do the work that it takes (in the first half).

"As it pressed on, we did better. We had a ton of chances on goal."

In the 25th minute, Carter ran on to Ashburn's throw-in from the right sideline, and with a defender on her hip, Carter took a diagonal shot that ricocheted off of the crossbar and into the right side of the net.

Approximately four minutes later, McCall's diagonal shot bounced off of the crossbar.

However, with 4:35 remaining before halftime, Ashburn ran on to a ball that Carter played ahead, outracing the Lady Bobcat goalkeeper to the ball to create an empty-net opportunity. Ashburn's shot found the net as she was tackled by a Greenbrier defender.

"At halftime, we challenged them to be more efficient and to possess the ball," Pryor said. "We did a much better job of that. It was much better soccer in the second half.

"We talk about mentally being able to finish the game. In the first half, we reverted to their style of play. We need to play out of the back and move the ball upfield."

Less than a minute into the second half, Carter gained control of a Lady Bobcat punt and attacked, resulting in the fourth goal of the match.

"Coach just told us that we were not playing soccer … we were playing rec (recreational) ball," Carver said. "We had better communication, better possession, better teamwork as a whole. We got settled in in the second half."

Less than five minutes later, Carter's corner kick from the left side curled into the right side of the goal, completing her second hat trick (scoring three goals) of the season.

"KeLeigh Wilkerson had a very good game at center defensive mid (midfielder) and left back, and Josie McCall at right mid had her best game to date," Pryor said. "We challenged the attack, and she responded. Macie (Dillard) did a good job, and we put a lot of role players out there and got a lot of good minutes out of a lot of people … Bryli (Nichols), Graci (Scott), Karla Martinez and Molly Brawner."

Then, in the 58th minute, Carver played a ball from the left side of the field into the box that resulted in a handball.

Senior defender Morgan Carter took the ensuing penalty kick and converted to conclude the scoring.

"We're pleased with the win," Pryor said. "It's a district win. It should help us build confidence going forward.

"I'm proud of them. It's a testament to them and the work they've put in. We didn't play this way four or five years ago."

• The Tigerettes followed that up with a 7-1 victory over visiting Springfield last Thursday evening.

"It was a great defensive game by our whole team," Pryor said. "We shut down the best individual player (Molly Smith) in the district."

Keeley Carter had another hat trick, her third of the season.

Carver scored two goals, and Dillard and Ashburn each had a goal.

Macon County evened its record at 3-3-1 and improved to 2-0 in 9-AA play.