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NTL GIRLS SOCCER: ROE, BLACKMAN LEAD ATHENS TO 5-0 SEASON-OPENING WIN OVER SAYRE (24 PHOTOS) (2020-09-14)

By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
ATHENS — Athens seniors Emma Roe and Hannah Blackman made sure “Senior Night” would be one to remember for the Lady Wildcats as they combined for five goals in a 5-0 season-opening win over arch-rival Sayre here Monday evening in NTL girls soccer action at Alumni Stadium.

“It was a great Senior Night,” said Athens coach Rich Pitts. “ I'm happy the seniors were able to play the senior night game, and get the victory to start off the season.”

The Lady Wildcats took the lead in the 17th minute when a hard shot from 25 yards out by Blackman squirted through the hands of Sayre sophomore keeper Adrianna Barnhart, ricocheted off the post, rolled across the goal mouth, and then across the goal line for the score.

Athens kept the pressure on for the remainder of the half, but could not increase its lead.

With 3 minutes remaining in the first half, Sayre standout, junior Roz Haney, was helped off the field with an apparent knee injury, and did not return.

“It took us some time to get going a little bit,” said Pitts. “We looked tight and a little tentative in our play, but because of the young ones playing a bunch I expected it.

“I thought Sayre played well, but then because we play so deep off the bench, we ran them out of gas a little bit,” he added.

“Our inexperience showed tonight against a talented and speedy team,” said Sayre coach Tracy Mennig.

“We played a bit tentative and gave them more space than they deserved.,” she said. “I was pleased with score and effort at the half.”

Just two minutes into the second half, Roe made a run down the middle of the field, and beat Barnhart with a shot to make it 2-0.

About eight minutes into the second half, Blackman picked a corner kick out of the air from junior Hannah Walker, and volleyed it into the back of the net from about 20 yards out to make it 3-0.

Just 3 1/2 minutes later, Roe scored to make it 4-0. She finished off her hat trick in the 61st minute to provide the final margin.

Athens had a 24-1 advantage in shots-on-goal, and an 11-1 edge in corner kicks.

Barnhart registered 18 saves in net for the Lady Redskins, and sophomore Abby Champion had one for Athens.

“Adrianna had a fantastic game in the nett,” said Mennig. “She made some great saves and held her own when our defense let her down.”

The Lady Redskins, who played much of 2019 with a depleted roster, played short-handed for a portion of the second half.

“We have a lot to work on, but overall it wasn’t a bad first game under the circumstances,” said Mennig. “We began with only one sub, and only had 10 on the field for a lot of the second half.”

Mennig is hopeful Haney’s injury won’t keep her off the field for any length of time.

“I’m hoping Roz is back with us soon and it’s nothing serious,” she said.

Athens travels to Wellsboro Wednesday, while Sayre hosts NEB.

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IN PHOTO 1: Athens senior Emma Roe drives in for a score. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.

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