By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
Westminster Christian owned the total time of offensive possession, but Cullman’s girls soccer team made the most of its limited opportunities, receiving two goals from Savannah Rakestraw and one from Kaitlyn Cook to earn a 3-2 win in the Lady Bearcats’ first game of its fifth annual varsity tournament.
“It wasn’t very pretty, but we’ll take a win on the first day,” Black and Gold coach Greg Brown said. “I’m happy.”
The scoreboard attendant was barely given enough time to settle into his seat before Cullman put him to work. After passing the ball back and forth with Rakestraw in front of the net, Cook managed to punch it past the goalkeeper at the 27:30 mark.
From there, the Bearcat offense was all Rakestraw. The speedy forward, one of only three seniors on the 16-girl roster, broke a 1-1 tie with 5:30 remaining in the first half, beating the Wildcat goalkeeper to a loose ball and drilling it in the bottom left corner of the net.
Westminster once again found a way to even the score with a snazzy floater early in the second half, but Rakestraw had just enough gas in the tank to get the job done for Cullman. The scoring machine, bulky brace on her right knee and all, took a short pass from Hayden Slatton and booted it in for the game-winning goal with just a bit more than five minutes remaining in the contest.
“She’s an awesome girl,” Brown said of Rakestraw. “Her ankle’s wrapped up, her knee’s wrapped up, but she trudges through it.”
The victory improved the Black and Gold’s record to 5-7-1, which isn’t too shabby considering their lineup consists of 10 freshmen. Factor in that this tournament is Cullman’s third of the season and second in as many weeks, and it’s easy to see why Brown has been pleasantly surprised to see his team hovering around the .500 mark.
“We’re just so young,” the coach said. “We’ve taken our licks this year, but we’ve played better than I thought we’d play early. We played a tournament last weekend, so we’re a little dead right now, especially for being so young.”
The Bearcats didn’t have much time to rest following their win versus Westminster, but it didn’t seem to matter, as the Black and Gold took care of Oxford 2-0 later in the night to improve to 6-7-1.
Cullman was the only squad in the 10-team field with two wins in pool play at presstime. Mars Hill (1-0) and Austin (0-1) were still in progress in a contest that began at 9 p.m. on Friday.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.