BY MATTHEW SPARKS
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
GRAYSON Even though the calendar says August, Russell played a little trick and treat on the pitch Thursday night.
Senior Kynidee Allen netted a hat trick and four other teammates tallied a goal as the Lady Devils treated themselves to a 9-1 road win over East Carter.
Russell coach John Perry believes all the hard work his team has put in this year is already paying dividends early in the new campaign.
“They have put a lot of effort in during the preseason,” Perry said. “We have a lot of talent on this team. Once we find a way to put all those pieces together, I expect the sky’s the limit with this team.”
Allen, who has been bothered by a shoulder injury most of her varsity career, can still rifle a rocket ball off either foot from her center midfielder position.
She tallied her first goal outside the box, sending a missile past the keeper in the 14th minute.
“She is a very dynamic player,” Perry said. “She works tremendously hard to sharpen her game every season. She did suffer an injury at camp her freshman year. It was pulled out of place and it’s never really healed properly. She is battling that, but she is a tremendous player up front.”
Allen’s goal came after Taylor Stamper got deep in the box to find the back of the net just three minutes into the game. Both scores held up to give the Lady Devils a 2-0 lead at halftime.
“Russell is a very good team and I don’t want to take anything away from them,” East Carter coach Koty Buck said. “They played well. They are the defending region champions and we always be a tough game when you play them. I think the Russell name got in our heads. They beat us out of the regional tournament last year.”
“We came out flat,” he added. “They put in one early, but in soccer you play 80 minutes. Scoring a goal in the first three minutes, it’s harder to keep that lead, but Russell did a great job. From the first whistle, we weren’t ready to play.”
Taylor Hall finally got free to cut the Lady Raiders’ deficit in half. After a pass caromed off a defender, Hall collected and booted it through for her 25th goal of the season. It would be the Lady Raiders’ only shot of the second half.
“I didn’t think it was technical things that were our problem in the first half,” Buck said. “It was just not ready to win a ball and not ready to play. … They came out a little more ready to play the second half. Some of that falls on me as a coach, just not having a team ready to play, and not having a team ready for certain things to happen in a game.”
Allen recorded the next two goals for Russell (2-1-1). Stamper found her in the box with a cross then Allen tickled the twine after she stepped in front of a pass as the East Carter keeper tried to clear 10 minutes later.
Hannah Howell collected two goals, one on a penalty kick, as the Lady Devils connected for six goals in the final 15 minutes of play. Stamper added another to her scoring column along with a pair of assists. Kylie Busick and Abby Keeton finished off the Russell scoring.
“It’s really fun to watch,” Perry said. “It’s fun that we can shuffle girls in and out, put them in different places and never lose the tempo of the game. That is the fabulous thing about this team. I can put players anywhere that I feel we need them and they are going to show out for me.”
East Carter (5-3) was missing the services of its starting goalkeeper in the second half. She left the game at halftime after experiencing allergy issues.
Russell is 9-1-1 in its last 11 meetings with the Lady Raiders dating back to 2013. Perry said the team was excited about playing a 16th Region team for the first time this season after opening with three tough opponents.
“They feel really good about it,” Perry said. “Of course, when you come to East Carter the last two seasons, you have to worry about Taylor Hall. She is a fabulous player. I think our defense did a really good job from the defensive backs to the midfield of finding her on the field and locking her down. We knew that if we could contain her, we had a good shot at beating East Carter. We executed perfectly tonight.”