By Maurice Patton
It typically doesn’t take Ava Corbin long to make an impression.
It didn’t on her coach, and it hasn’t on opposing coaches or on other teams’ defenses.
“She’s fast, she’s skilled. We knew she was all that and she proved it tonight. She’s fun to watch,” Columbia Academy’s Zach Kittrell said after the Zion Christian sophomore forward ran past his Lady Bulldogs for four goals Tuesday in a 9-2 victory.
It was the third multi-goal game in five games for Corbin, who has 14 of the Lady Eagles’ 25 markers in their 2-3 campaign.
“I watched her play co-ed with the boys in middle school,” said Zion first-year girls coach Nick Dale, who has previously coached the boys team. “I knew when she could outrun the boys she could be something special.
“Her speed is on a different level.”
After playing a complementary role as a freshman, Corbin scored one of the Lady Eagles’ goals in a season-opening 9-3 loss at Lawrence County. A day later, she broke loose for seven scoring kicks in a 10-2 win over visiting Loretto.
She and Zion were held scoreless in a 9-0 loss at Providence Christian, but she bounced back with a pair in a 7-3 loss to Culleoka last week.
“We lost a lot of seniors from last year,” Corbin said after the Lady Eagles matched their win total from 2019, when the team finished 2-11-1. “We’ve struggled, but I think it’s helped us work harder and bond.”
A former cross country runner – “I like to run with my dad, so I work on my running a lot” – Corbin considers her speed the biggest part, but not the only part, of her offensive game.
“When our backs play balls over (defenses’) heads, I’m able to use my speed,” she said. “But in travel soccer (with the Columbia Lady Arsenal), I have to work on my footwork more.”
She showed her ballhandling skills as well as her speed in Tuesday’s effort, assisting on a Lilli Mai Fann goal that got the Lady Eagles on the scoreboard less than five minutes into the contest before extending the visitors’ lead with a score off a Fann rebound and another on a breakaway.
After a defensive breakdown led to an own goal that cut the CA deficit to 3-1, Corbin followed her own miss and scored just before halftime.
In the second 40 minutes, Rivers Abshere replicated Corbin’s early hat trick with one of her own, offsetting an Emily Diles goal for the hosts, and Fann added a second goal before Corbin closed out the scoring with less than three minutes remaining.
“With Rivers and Sophie (Elia) in the middle to control the ball, when they beat one person, it gives us the option to have Ava streak through,” Dale said. “It’s all team oriented. We’ve got three major players, but Sophie does a lot of the dirty work, the defense does a lot. If they don’t get the ball forward, we can’t score.
“Ava scores a lot, but the team has to get her the ball.”
Both teams resume play Thursday with home games — Zion Christian against Webb (Bell Buckle), Columbia Academy against Providence Christian.
At the net: Mt. Pleasant forced a decisive fifth set before falling in District 11-A volleyball action Tuesday at Lewis County. The Lady Tigers lost the opener 25-14, tied the game with a 25-22 win in the second set, then bounced back from a 25-17 loss with a 25-20 win. The Lady Panthers took the finale 15-7.
In a key District 12-AAA matchup, a shorthanded Brentwood team held off host Summit in five sets. The Lady Bruins won the fourth set 26-24 before claiming the finale 15-8, after Summit rallied from a 25-19 loss in the opener with back-to-back 25-15 and 25-21 wins.
On the links: Nashville Christian’s boys defeated Columbia Academy — by 12 strokes — and Zion Christian by in a nine-hole golf match Tuesday at Graymere.
Nashville Christian got matching 41s from Chase Wright and Thatcher Green en route to a 224 team score. Dylan Samuel shot a 43 to lead Zion Christian, with Beckham Faulkner’s 44 leading CA.
Nashville Chr. (224) – Chase Wright 41, Thatcher Green 41, Alexander Looney 43, Bailey Forte 48, Gage Smith 51
Columbia Acad. (236) – Beckham Faulkner 44, Seth Hulen 45, Grant Wooldridge 48, Colby Kitchen 49, Hardison Greene 50
Zion Chr. (284) – Dylan Samuel 43, Jackson Hughes 56, Collin Kennedy 60, Brock Loyd 61, Nathan MacPhearson 64, Connor Kennedy 65
Columbia Acad. girls (124) – Abby Burgess 62, Morgan Parker 62