About a minute before Highlands girls middle school soccer coach Caleb Brown sent his team onto the field to face the visiting Summit Charter School Lady Bears, he went over specific team assignments for each position – defenders, midfielders and strikers.
When he got to the two strikers, Gabby Diaz and Caitlin Tingen, he said, “Your job is to score goals. You two are the fastest players out there. Use your speed and score.”
Diaz and Tingen took his words to heart with the two Lady Highlander strikers accounting for six of the seven Highlands goals in their 7-1 win over Summit Charter School on Wednesday, March 11.
Diaz scored Highlands’ first five goals on her own and Tingen, along with MacKenzie Woods, added second half goals in the runaway win.
Brown said his team, 1-1 on the season, following an 8-2 loss on the road to Tallulah Falls, is playing good soccer.
“We played well in both games,” he said. “Tallulah Falls is always tough. Today, we executed and made our passes, and Gabby is just fast with the ball.”
Diaz got the ball rolling for the Lady Highlanders, breaking the ice on scoring at the 20:16 mark of the first half, pushing a kick from the left off a pass from Tingen. Diaz tallied her second goal five minutes later at the 15:15 mark, finding the left corner of the box again.
After the Lady Bears Taylor Robinson scored from 18 yards out after missing on a penalty kick just moments earlier, Diaz added two more goals in the half’s final three minutes to put the Lady Highlanders up 4-1 at the break.
Less than five minutes into the second half, Diaz notched her fifth goal of the game at the 25:47 mark. The speedy striker then turned over scoring honors to her teammates.
Tingen found the net at 20:44 of the second half and Woods followed suit at 16:46 to round out the Highlands scoring.
Brown said his defense kept goalkeeper Olivia Cole free for most of the game, keeping the contest on the Summit side of the field.
“Olivia made her stops and played well,” Brown said of his goalkeeper.