Battle soccer teams get wins over previously unbeaten Honaker

Girls  John Battle 5, Honaker 2

BRISTOL, Va. – Honaker has perhaps surprised a few folks around the Clinch Mountain Conference this spring considering its girls soccer team had flattened everything in its path en route to producing six wins in six outings.

But on Tuesday at Sugar Hollow Park, defending champion John Battle served notice that the road to a CMC title still runs through Bristol.

“As of now I’d think so,” said ninth-year Honaker coach Wilburn Johnson, whose Tigers have beaten Union twice, as well as Ridgeview, Gate City, Wise County Central and Lee this season. “They controlled the ball on us more than anyone has this year.

“But we’ve still got a lot of season left to play and we have a return game with them next week at our place, so hopefully that will help us. I’m telling you, it’s a lot of adjustment playing on this big ol’ field over here, but that’s no excuse. Battle certainly outplayed us today.”

It should no one that the Trojans, now 2-0-1 on the season, are the team to beat in the CMC, despite the fact that Sasha Haderer is no longer leading the charge on Battle Hill.

The Trojans, who have qualified for postseason play in each of coach Colleen Johnson’s previous six seasons as head coach, return an extremely strong and experienced defense, in addition to offensive standout Melina Turner.

“We’ve thrown a couple of girls into Sasha’s spot [offensive center-mid] and they so far are up to the task,” Colleen Johnson said. “We’ve put [freshman] Madison Chappell in there some and we’ve had Melina in there as well, and they are working really hard.

“Nobody can replace Sasha, obviously, but they both know the level at which Sasha played for four years and they know they’ve got to play to the very best of their ability to get close to that. And so far they have been able to do just that.”

Clearly, Turner is the offensive leader of the team.

A sophomore with terrific ball skills, Turner scored five goals in a season-opening win over Ridgeview, and three more in the win over Honaker – including a pair from outside the penalty box.

“No.13 [Turner], her ability to dribble the ball and blast those long shots, she’s really good,” Wilburn Johnson said. “She is why Battle was able to control the ball so well on us.”

Colleen Johnson is obviously happy to have Turner, a sophomore who scored over 30 goals last year.

“Her ball skills are just outstanding,” Colleen Johnson said. “She’s strong and her shots on frame are really very, very good.”

Turner received good offensive support against the Tigers from sophomores Hannah Herosky and Michaela Monk, both of whom added goals.

Monk is a defensive standout along a back wall which features four returning starters and a returning goalkeeper.

“That’s the strength of our team,” Colleen Johnson said. “We’ve got a lot of great experience back there - three seniors among them - and with Michaela, I know in any one-on-one situation she’s going to come away with the ball.

“I don’t want to think about losing all that defensive strength to graduation here in a couple months. Right now I’m just going to enjoy what we have back there.”

Honaker actually took a 1-0 lead on a goal by senior Kiana Roman, before Turner took over and helped lead the Trojans to a 4-1 halftime advantage.

Monk scored her goal on a penalty kick in the second half, while Honaker’s second goal was produced by sophomore Madi Viers.

The two teams meet again Monday at Honaker, where Wilburn Johnson hopes a smaller field and the synthetic turf helps his Tigers in their attempt to even the score with the Trojans.

BOYS John Battle 4, Honaker 3

Paul Musick produced his first career hat trick Tuesday night, pushing the Trojans to a hard-fought win over previously unbeaten Honaker in a non-conference boys soccer game at Sugar Hollow Park.

A junior, Musick scored two goals in a 29-second span, erasing a 3-2 Honaker advantage midway through the second half.

“If Paul plays with his head, he’s tough, and that’s what he did tonight,” Battle coach Mike Posey said. “He didn’t get upset with himself and he finished what he needed to finish and put ‘em in the back of the net.

“A hat trick’s pretty good.”

Battle, which got its first goal from senior Andrew Bowers, led 2-0 before Honaker freshman Chandler Hubbard knocked home two goals to tie the game by halftime.

The Tigers (6-1) grabbed a 3-2 edge in the 47th minute on a goal by senior Jordan Stout, before Musick tallied with 24:39 and 24:10 on the second-half clock.

“Stout’s a heck of a player, but our defense did a really good job of marking him all night,” said Posey, whose Trojans are now 2-2.

Honaker coach Doug Hubbard tipped his hat to Battle for handing his team its first loss of the year.

“They outplayed us,” said Hubbard, whose Tigers play at home on synthetic turf. “We knew that this would be a really good test for us because of the way they move the ball.

“This was a good learning experience for us. We’ve got to realize that on these bigger fields, especially when the grass is a bit high like it was here tonight, that we’ve got to move and pass and work the ball. Tonight we were trying too many long balls.”

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