E.A. Sports Today

Using your head

‘Beautiful’ goal by Olivia Strickland sends Westbrook on its way to a 3-0 state tournament victory at Donoho

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Joel Hawbaker has seen a lot of beautiful goals in his years coaching the beautiful game. The header Olivia Strickland scored to get Westbrook Christian going in its 1A-3A tournament games ranks among the best he has seen in a while.

Strickland tucked a header just inside the left post less than seven minutes into the match to open the scoring and send the Lady Warriors on their way to a 3-0 win over Donoho Tuesday at Lentz Field.

It was the third goal Strickland had scored this year and only her fourth since moving into the field following two years as a goalkeeper, and was by far the nicest.

“I can’t even believe it; it was amazing,” the senior midfielder said. “I scored twice before this season, but that was the best one thus far.”

The play started with a short corner kick to Makenna Beard. Strickland knows any time Beard gets the ball on that play “it’s coming to my head,” and nothing was different this time.

The ball came in and Makenna floated a pass to across the penalty area right where Strickland was waiting to redirect it with the flick of her head. Donoho keeper Campbell Hagan had no chance.

“I told her that was probably the best headed goal I’ve seen since our playoff game four years ago,” Hawbaker said. “Kylee Berndt scored a beautiful goal with her head up at Mars Hill when Oliviia was a freshman.

“(Strickland) scored in the state championship game last year, so that’s two goals in two playoff games. For a kid who doesn’t think of herself as a goal-scorer, that’s good stuff.”

Even Donoho coach Jay Jenkins marveled at the beauty of the goal.

“That first goal was beautiful; nobody’s going to stop that,” he said.

Jenkins expected the Lady Warriors to score at least one goal, just as he expected the Falcons to get one; it’s the other two goals he finds bothersome.

Westbrook went up 2-0 later in the half when Hilary Tran was able to bounce a long shot through the last sliver of glare and over Hagan into the cage. The Warriors scored their third goal 10 minutes into the second half when Beard was centered up from Mary Reid Goodwin and had the whole goal to shoot at.

As is their style, the Warriors were on the attack from the opening play, but they didn’t completely pin Donoho in its own end.

The Falcons (13-3) sprung free for 10 shots, including a couple nice chances by Lily Wiedmer, but couldn’t find the back of the net and finished the season with 99 goals scored.

“We just got outplayed; the bottom line is they’re a better team,” Jenkins said. “We tried to attack them from a defensive standpoint and play for the end of the game. We just wanted to stay in the game until the end and see what we could do, but it just didn’t go out way.”

The Warriors (17-6) now play Mars Hill, an 8-5 winner over New Hope.

On the cover: Westbrook’s Olivia Strickland watches some of the action unfold while taking a break after scoring the game’s first goal.

To view a gallery of B.J. Franklin photos from the match, go to www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com

You must be logged in to post a comment Login