By Michael Lindsay
It had been 6 years since the Stone Memorial Lady Panthers left the soccer field victorious over their cross-town rival Cumberland County, but two goals from Shelby Vitous Tuesday evening broke the streak as the Lady Panthers defeated the Lady Jets, 2-0.
“It’s special for sure,” said Stone Memorial head coach Tyler Rutherford. “We’ve taken our lumps and lost some close games, but keep doing the right things. I’ve got seniors that have never beaten Cumberland County, and it’s a great booster for our whole team. It couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Vitous’ first goal came from outside the 18 on the right side as she fired in a goal with 7:35 remaining in the first half to give the Lady Panthers a 1-0 lead at the break.
“Shelby played wonderful,” Rutherford said. “That’s not a position she typically plays; she’s usually in the midfield. We knew against a team like Cumberland County, we’d need to get out early. We decided to try her up top and it worked out pretty well.”
Stone Memorial put the game away with 20:07 remaining as an Ellie Strong free kick hit the crossbar before Vitous one-touched it off the rebound into the net for her second goal of the evening, giving SMHS a 2-0 advantage.
Stone Memorial’s defense held strong the entire 80 minutes as they shut out Cumberland County en route to the 2-0 victory.
The Lady Panthers’ win Tuesday snaps a 13-game losing streak to Cumberland County dating back to the 2017 Region 3-2A championship game.
“Our adversity doesn’t define us, and when we do things the right way, good things will happen,” Rutherford added. “We did that tonight and managed to come out on top against a good soccer team.”
Both teams’ regular season schedules are winding down as the Lady Panthers travel to CAK on Thursday and host Lenoir City next Thursday in their final regular season games. Cumberland County hosts White County on Thursday before traveling to Lenoir City next Tuesday and Rhea County on Thursday, Oct. 5.