Lady Mavs Win Mauldin Cup

     The Mavericks took on a familiar Hillcrest side in the Final of the 2012 Mauldin Cup.  Both teams came through their brackets undefeated and eager to be crowned champions.  It was Mauldin whose eagerness paid off early.  Sarah Tuggle intercepted a pass just after the kickoff and knocked it forward to Ragan Hill.  Ragan moved the ball up and played it to Emily Praktish, who beat her mark with a couple neat moves before changing the point of attack with a beautiful through pass to Maggie Cowley on the left.  Maggie took a touch to freeze the keeper and placed a perfect pass across the face of goal where Ragan had the easiest of tap-ins to open the scoring with only thirty seconds played.  Minutes later the Mavs repeated the attack, this time started by Sarah behind midfield with a touch up to Ragan.  Ragan spun and found Maggie coming down the left line.  Maggie’s ball across found Emily at the far post and her point blank shot was barely saved by the keeper scrambling across her goal.  After a couple more build-ups Emily forced another good save at the right post followed a few minutes later by Ragan who forced a dive out of the Rams goalie.  The girls settled into a more relaxed pace working the ball methodically through the Hillcrest midfield and into attack.  The Rams packed in a bit to absorb the pressure and look for an opportunity to counter.  It came about fifteen minutes in as Hillcrest played a wall pass in the center circle and found space outside the box.  The ambitious long range shot took the Mav defense and keeper by surprise and equalized the score.  Undaunted, the Mavericks resumed the patient probing of the Ram defense.  Kathy Jones just missed getting her head to a corner kick and Tori Pilgrim’s follow up shot was saved from the top corner.  Sarah took a deep throw from Maggie and worked it along the goal line.  Her shot from six feet out was blocked by a frantic keeper who then stopped Sarah’s second attempt from the same spot.  Mauldin continued to dominate possession and did not allow a Ram on the ball within thirty yards of the Mav goal for the rest of the half.

     The Mavericks began the second half with a bit more energy and conviction than they showed at the end of the first.  Within a minute they had play focused in the Hillcrest penalty area, forcing repeated blocks and desperate clearances.  Only the spin of the ball caused Lauren Young to miss a chance in front.  An alert play by a Ram blocked Gina Cardenas effort from a couple yards out.  The Mavs patiently built their attacks with the trap of a cleared ball by a defender, up through the midfield, and out to an overlapping run or in to a forward.  The Ram defense only had time to get a frantic foot to the ball.  The persistence paid off for Mauldin as Kathy controlled a clearance and played square to Amanda Martin.  Amanda advanced and pushed the ball to Ragan whose first touch was wide to Sarah.  Sarah brought it back across the top of the box where Gina put her laces through the ball, driving it low and past a diving keeper into the bottom left of goal.  Buoyed with a fresh lead, the Mavs went looking for more, and it took less than two minutes to tally the third.  High pressure by Tera Dolan forced an errant kick to center.  Gina collected and passed to Lauren who spun quickly and played wide to Ragan.  Ragan cut inside quickly, drawing out the defense and creating space for Sarah in the arc.  Sarah made one touch to her right to get the keeper moving before firing across goal to the empty side of the net.  The Mavs continued to look for more and Emily volleyed a cross from Meghan Meek just left of goal.  Meghan also wove her way through the defense to force a diving save from her shot.  Hillcrest refused to go quietly and earned a dubious free kick in front of goal.  Caitland Considine dove to her right to push the ball wide and end the threat.  The Mavs finished strong and came close to adding to their score.  Sarah Kate Phillips chased a ball into the corner before nutmegging the defender and playing the ball in front of an open net.  A Ram defender barely got to the ball first and denied Haley Dunham the easy tap in.  Seconds later Kathy almost headed in Gina’s free kick on the last play of the match.  On the day it was a very sound performance by the Mavericks, dominating play from end to end and deservedly earning the silverware.  Congratulations to the 2012 Mauldin Cup Champions, the Lady Mavericks!!