Pandemic forces pause for Columbia Central girls soccer

By Maurice Patton

Greg Szydlowski will have to wait a bit longer for his Columbia Central girls soccer team to dent the scoreboard.

After back-to-back shutouts, the Lady Lions have been shut down because of pandemic-related concerns. The team will not be allowed to practice or play again until Sept. 2 – forcing the rescheduling of District 8-AAA home matches this week against Franklin County and Lincoln County, and giving them minimal preparation for a Sept. 3 league contest against visiting Coffee County.

“I’ve sent them a workout,” Szydlowski said. “I’ve told them, if you don’t stick by this, and eat healthy, we’re going to go out there and it’s going to be ugly.”

The downtime presents a further challenge for a Central squad that was not without its struggles from the season’s onset. Coming off a 4-10-2 finish a year ago, an already inexperienced roster took a hit with the loss of senior goalkeeper Maddie Fraser for academic reasons.

“We had to put (defender Maddy Underwood) in goal, and she’d never played a lick of goal,” Szydlowski said. “Some of the goals have been very poor, but that’s not been her fault.

“Our starting 11 can compete, but if we lose one, it’s going to be tough.”

Following a 3-0 loss at Franklin County on Aug. 18, Central dropped a 4-0 decision to Shelbyville last week. After that second defeat, word came down that the program had been exposed to the coronavirus.

“Any time there’s a COVIID situation that impacts a program, you feel for the kids, the coaches, the parents,” Maury County Public Schools athletics director Chris Poynter said. “We’ve had three programs affected since June. We feel fortunate it’s not been more. But health and safety have to be the No. 1 priority when approaching this, making sure we execute the established protocols and guidelines to ensure the safety of everyone involved.”

The Lady Lions’ home game against Lincoln County has been reset for Sept. 10, with the Franklin County contest now planned for Sept. 19.

“Right now, we’re just waiting,” Szydlowski said. “(But) the girls’ attitudes have been a lot of fun.”

Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. E-mail:; Twitter: @mopatton_sports.

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