Day records double hat trick in Briarwood win

By ED BAILEY/Special to the Reporter

ALEXANDER CITY – It was Claudia’s day in round one of the AHSAA Class 5A soccer playoffs, as Briarwood Christian’s senior scored six of the team’s seven goals to power them over the home-standing Benjamin Russell Lady Wildcats 7-2.

The Lady ‘Cats roared out of the gate to start things off, as early pressure led to a breakaway chance for Bethany Miller, who promptly found the twine to give Benjamin Russell the lead early in the first half.

“It kind of woke us up,” Briarwood Christian coach Ryan Leib said. “It was disappointing as we wanted to start quick. But I was really proud of our response. We didn’t crumble, we didn’t panic or anything. We just stuck with the plan, and our girls played great.”

Briarwood Christian then answered, running their offense through Day.

“I think once we saw (Day), we kind of got intimidated by her,” said BRHS girls soccer coach Meghan Bailey. “I don’t think we got outplayed by Briarwood, but she outplayed us. We prepared for her, but there was nothing we could do. Our girls never gave up, though.”

After Day tied things up on a header from a corner kick, she proceeded to net two of the Lions’ next three goals, as a 4-0 run that was keyed by strong passing close to the goal put the Wildcats down three.

“We like to try and keep the ball, pass it around and get the opposition into dangerous situations,” Leib said. “(BRHS) played a pretty high line defensively, and there was some space behind it. We felt that if we could get back there, we could make things happen.”

Benjamin Russell cut into the lead thanks to a penalty kick from Karena Naranjo. Naranjo’s first attempt was saved, but an infraction by Briarwood Christian led to a re-kick.

In the second half, Day put it away, scoring the Lions’ three second-half goals, all via headers.”She’s a fantastic player,” Leib said. “She can do everything. She’s just hard to handle for any high school team. She’s our key, and she stepped up and had a great game for us.”

Briarwood moves on to face John Carroll May 3.