Struggling to ‘finish’, Lady Lions blanked for third time

By Maurice Patton

Coming out of a two-week quarantine period for pandemic-related reasons, Columbia Central resumed its girls soccer schedule Thursday against visiting District 8-AAA rival Coffee County.

And the Lady Lions didn’t fare much better than they had in their two league contests prior to being sidelined – giving up a goal midway through the opening half and misfiring on a series of scoring opportunities en route to a 1-0 defeat.

“We can’t finish the soccer ball,” a frustrated Central coach Greg Szydlowski said as his team’s string of scoreless matches went to three, following its 3-0 loss at Franklin County on Aug. 18 and a 4-0 defeat by Shelbyville two days later.

“We dominated the game. Scoring chances – we had probably 15. They had one opportunity, and they finished it. We can’t put the ball in the net.”

Katie Cotten scored from about 15 yards out near the 25-minute mark of the first period, knocking a low liner past Maddy Underwood, who has been pressed into action in goal.

Columbia Central junior forward Moriah “Mo” Melikian, slowed by a hip flexor injury, couldn’t help her team past visiting Coffee County in its first game after being quarantined for two weeks. The Lady Lions fell 1-0 in Thursday’s District 8-AAA matchup. (Photo by Buffy Holt)

“We got tired; we were cramping,” Szydlowski said. “We hadn’t played for 14 days. (Forward) Mo Melikian is battling a hip flexor injury. That doesn’t help.

“But in those moments, somebody has to be that finisher.”

Already fighting uphill from last year’s 4-10-2 finish, the Lady Lions were also dealing with youth and depth concerns – and that’s before the pandemic issues.

“We want to win,” the coach said. “We’re tired, we’re young in a lot of places, but we’ll never lack effort. We’ll constantly work. But when we lose one of our starting 11, we’re playing chess all night.”

Columbia Central resumes play Tuesday against visiting Centennial.

Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. E-mail:; Twitter: @mopatton_sports.

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