FORT WALTON BEACH – It was an all-too familiar scene for Choctaw head coach Jeff Rynearson.
After watching Dani Weyer’s penalty kick glance off the right post in the 29th minute of Tuesday’s District 2-3A match against Rutherford, he looked over to his son and assistant coach, J.R., and let out an appropriate response for a coach that’d seen enough near misses this season to last a lifetime: “We’re snake-bitten.”
And considering the team’s experiences at home this year, that sounded about right.
“Us at home, this is our fifth game and the four previous we scored one goal,” Rynearson said. “We were fortunate to win two of those – one on an own goal from Fort Walton Beach, the other one goal against (Pensacola) – and to be 2-1-1, but scoring one goal in four matches here we felt snake-bitten entering tonight.”
And that same helpless feeling carried over to the opening 29 minutes against Rutherford, which happily watched the Indians miss their first 17 shots, three of which hit a post or crossbar.
View a photo gallery from the game >>
“We missed that PK and I just knew we were snake-bitten,” Rynearson said.
But just a minute later, Rynearson’s fears would be alleviated.
Redeeming her earlier miss on a perfect cross from Kayla Douglas, who delivered a team-best two assists, Weyer stuck a right footer inside the far post in the 30th minute and the Indians (8-3-1, 3-1-1) went on to capture a 5-0 win.
“We got the monkey off our back,” said Rynearson, whose team improved to 3-1-1 at home. “We needed that.”
It was the sixth shutout for the Indians behind goalkeeper Sam Shaw, who only had to make one save with Paige Wooley, Rachyl Sutton, Sydney Oliver and Britta Thomas quickly putting to rest any threat mounted by the Rams. And the one shot, coming from a flat-footed Zabella Thompson, had little behind it.
“The back four made some mistakes tonight, but they held tough and Rutherford couldn’t capitalize,” Rynearson said. “We’re working on a lot of new things, like gaining possession and keeping possession in the back instead of just blasting it forward. We were looking to play possession and to play the ball wide, so we did some good things. Tonight was the night to work on some of those aspects to get better for the future.”
The offense, meanwhile, had very little troubles after the slow start.
Following the opening score from Weyer, who ended up with two goals, Douglas found the back of the net three minutes later to make it 2-0 at halftime.
Then in the second an avalanche of goals rained down, as Courtney Campbell (59th minute), Weyer (71st) and Kayleen Peters (75th) each scored to put the game out of reach.
The scoring rhythm had a lot to do with the Douglas twins (Kayla and Kelsey), who moved the ball well in the outside midfielder positions and combined for three assists.
“They’re dangerous because they’re deceptively fast and strong,” Rynearson said. “They pretty much make our offense go.”
The Indians will travel Friday to play Leon.