KINGSPORT — Blake Rutherford’s first game as head coach of the Dobyns-Bennett soccer program could not have started better.
The Lady Indians raced past Elizabethton 8-0 on Monday to kick off the season in style at Indian Highland Park.
“I wanted the girls to do so well, I was really nervous,” said Rutherford, a longtime assistant to former D-B coach Chris Woods, who stepped down in the spring following the end of the boys’ season. “I took about 17 Tums prior to the game, but I’m all right now.”
Lauren Feathers had two goals and an assist for D-B (1-0-0), with Erin Burkett also getting two goals. Maggie Burkett added a goal and two assists against the Lady Cyclones (0-1-0).
“The girls played so well,” Rutherford said.
“We do have some issues when it comes to possession. At times we possess the ball with no purpose. That’s something we need to improve on.”
Maggie Burkett opened scoring just five minutes into the contest when she blasted a shot from 25 yards out that went off the hands of Cyclones goalkeeper Kaitlyn Puckett.
In the 27th minute, Shannon Stroud took a pass from Feathers and found the back of the net to push the advantage to 2-0.
Elizabethton entered this season having lost 12 seniors off a team that advanced to the TSSAA Class AA tournament last fall.
“I thought we played with D-B for the first 22 minutes,” said Elizabethton coach Bill McClay. “When that second goal went in, we kind of let down.
“We got caught watching too much,” McClay added. “We can’t re-create the kind of pace that D-B plays at. This was a good lesson for us; we wanted to see where we need to take our game.”
In the 28th minute of the first half, Maggie Burkett launched a corner kick into the Lady Cyclones’ goalmouth. D-B sub Daria Stokely alertly pounced on the loose ball and found nothing but net to up the score to 3-0.
Feathers then put on a free kick clinic.
Twice in a span of three minutes, she was awarded a free kick in the same spot on the field. On both occasions, she lofted the ball over Puckett’s head and, going into halftime, the Lady Indians held a commanding 5-0 lead.
“That’s something I’ve been working on in practice,” Feathers said of her free kicks.
“It was a good first game for us and great to open with a win.”
Erin Burkett scored both her goals in the second half and Callie Root headed a cross from Maggie Burkett past Lady Cyclones backup keeper Sarah Robinson for the final goal of the game.
“Today was like a dress rehearsal for us,” Rutherford said. “We play Boone in a district game on Tuesday then head to Sevier County this weekend for a tournament.
“The girls brought a business attitude to the game. It was a good start for us.”