Cathedral’s goalkeeper Meredith Lessley kept team in match

Published 11:36 pm Thursday, August 26, 2021

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NATCHEZ — Meredith Lessley dove to the ground and stopped a penalty kick with her knees. The save kept the Green Wave alive in their penalty shootout with Laurel, but ultimately the Lady Hawks won on penalties 2-1.

Lessley started the penalty shootout with a kick of her own. She blazed her shot onto the crossbar and over the goal. When she plays as the goalie, other opponents will try to hit the top corners so she can’t reach them. Laurel decided to stick with the bottom corners, which is a safer shot.

“I was proud of the save,” Lessley said. “It is nerve-racking because you do not realize how close the penalty spot is until you are in goal. Once I jump one way, I can’t go the other way, so I have to guess. I saw the kicker’s eyes going to the left of me. I didn’t catch the ball, but I hit it out with my fists.”

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She made a couple of saves in the second half to keep her team in the game and to send them to penalty kicks. One free-kick went flying toward the goal, and she jumped up in the air to catch the ball. It hit her head and went behind the touchline for a corner kick.

Late in the second half, a low shot took a bounce as she fell on the ball. It looked like she took the soccer ball to the stomach as she landed on the ball.

“I caught the ball, but the grass was wet, and I had to army crawl to get it,” Lessley said. “It is hard because these gloves have a good grip, but once they get wet, it can cause the ball to slip. It can hit you on the face or your chest. I try to keep the ball as close to me as possible and as tight to me as possible.”

Head coach Dennis Hogue said his team looked better in the game than they did against Laurel Christian on Tuesday. Izzy Dupre made an assist in her return from quarantine after testing negative Wednesday.

Senior midfielder Jacie Ratliff missed the game because she would be in quarantine until Friday, he said. Her absence was felt in the game like it was when they lost to Laurel Christian on Tuesday, he said.

Gracie Foster scored Cathedral’s lone goal. She sidefooted a volley into the back of the net. Hogue said she had a strong match pressuring attackers in midfield.

As a team, the Green Wave communicated better and moved the ball well, he said. In the second half, a few offensive scoring chances went unfinished. He said it was the main thing he felt they could improve on.

“We had a few opportunities,” Hogue said. “We have been working so hard in practice. I have been so frustrated with our defensive play and controlling the midfield. We haven’t focused a whole lot on shooting in practice. I think we may need to next practice. I think that would have made the difference today.”