MURFREESBORO — Play every game like it’s your last.
Senior Jada Johnson did it so well Thursday night that she made sure it was not her last game in an Alcoa soccer uniform. That won’t occur for two more days when the Lady Tornadoes play for a state championship.
Johnson scored two goals to help deliver for the Lady Tornadoes a 3-0 victory over Adamsville in the Class A state tournament semifinals at Siegel Soccer Park.
Alcoa (14-5) will face familiar foe Signal Mountain (13-9) at 5 p.m. (4 p.m. CDT) Saturday for the title. The Lady Tornadoes beat Signal Mountain in the 2017 state title game, and Signal Mountain beat the Lady Tornadoes in last year’s state semifinals.
With knowledge of how that loss felt, Johnson did all she could to make sure she wouldn’t experience it again on Thursday.
“That means so much to me as a senior,” Johnson said. “I wanted to come out even in the worse conditions and give it my all. That’s just how I tried to perform.”
The fields around the complex remained a sloppy mess even though no games had been played on them during a rainy and cold day. The rain stopped a little more than an hour before Alcoa played and the sub-50-degree temperatures made the ground harder, but it was still difficult for the players to navigate.
Many of their passes were cut short by the soggy field, and moving the ball on their own wasn’t a great alternative. Alcoa dealt with the conditions better than Adamsville (13-3-1) and played much of the game in Adamsville’s defensive half.
Alcoa coach Shane Corley said that was his pre-game message. The field was in poor condition and mistakes were bound to be made. If the Lady Tornadoes were going to make mistakes, he wanted them to be made as far from their goal as possible.
“I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to be dribbling down the field and then the ball just stops and gets stuck in the mud,” Alcoa central midfielder Shelby Knight said. “You kind of have to scoop it as you go down the field. Our team worked phenomenally through it. Our defense cleaned up everything in the back. I thought it was going to be a messy game in the back, which it was, but it was cleaner that I expected.”
Johnson scored the opener in the 26th minute when she got free inside the penalty area and hit a shot directly at goalkeeper Jada Wynn. Wynn fumbled the shot, and it trickled across the goal line.
Johnson didn’t give Wynn a chance when she scored her second in the 47th minute. Johnson lofted a high shot from a short angle on the right side that went over everybody and into the goal at the side netting of the left post.
That was plenty of cushion for the Lady Tornadoes, who got yet another strong performance from defenders Laine Maness, Haley Atchley, Abby Sullivan and Peyton Potts. The back line shut down Adamsville so well that goalkeeper Riley McDonald never had to make an official save.
Adamsville’s best chance came with Alcoa leading 2-0. A forward was dribbling into the penalty area for a 1-v-1 opportunity with McDonald but held it too long, and Sullivan ran to the play and stepped around the forward to prevent a shot.
With the defense playing so well any more goals were just icing on the cake. Senior Rebecca Carolan was happy to give the Lady Tornadoes a sweet ending by slotting in a deflection with six minutes in the match.
Carolan’s goal allowed Alcoa to relax earlier than expected and made the frigid temperatures feel just a little bit warmer. When more than a handful of players did mud slides at midfield after the game it was clear the Lady Tornadoes were in their best moods of the season.
If all goes well Saturday they’ll be in even better moods.
“To be able to come back my senior year and compete for the state championship is absolutely insane to me,” Johnson said. “It’s surreal. We’re going. It’s happening.”