In fact, a 3-0 FHS victory against Grace Christian Academy in Farragut Soccer Stadium — having opened things up — represented “a lot of good things that we hadn’t been doing in our four preseason scrimmages,” Payne said.
In preseason, “We left a lot out there, which was not the way we needed to be playing soccer,” he added.
A season-opening 1-0 victory against Class AA power Greeneville Tuesday, Aug. 14 — with Amy Cloud’s goal in the game’s final two minutes the only tally — required “something different, a ‘super defensive style,’” Payne said. “We only had two shots on target.”
But against the Lady Rams, “We looked to possess and make the field big and move the ball quick and all that kind of stuff — and we did,” he added. “We did it in the first half really well.”
First half goals from Cloud, senior attacking midfielder, and senior Riley Clayton — assisted by Clayton and junior Lexi Barnes respectively — turned out to be plenty of offense.
“We got a few goals off of trying to possess in the final third (of the field), so it was really good,” Cloud said. “I’m really proud of everybody.”
Clayton scored her second goal thanks, in large part, to receiving an almost perfectly-placed 40-yard upfield pass from Cloud.
An open Clayton got past the only defender downfield, then beat the GCA goalkeeper with a shot from about 20 yards out with 9:29 left in the game.
As for other top individual performances, “it’s definitely worth mentioning Anna Taylor as a defensive mid(fielder), playing phenomenal,” Payne said about the senior. “And Maddie Hammon (senior), especially, as a center-(full)back, she played really good defense.”
Although Payne said Farragut didn’t attack as well in the second half, “we had a good work rate. And we played well defensively for the most part,” he added.
“There’s plenty to be proud of.”
Looking ahead, “We’ve got to figure out our identity: if we’re going to be able to keep playing good, attacking soccer, or if we’re going to have to defend a lot,” Payne said.