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First-Year Bookends Spur Scotties to Shock Spirits 3-2

Myah Johnson (9) celebrates after scoring first collegiate goal in the first half against Salem. September 8, 2019.
Myah Johnson (9) celebrates after scoring first collegiate goal in the first half against Salem. September 8, 2019.

DECATUR, Ga.—Scottie newcomers ruled the day on Sunday as Agnes Scott surprised visiting Salem with a 3-2 win. First-year Myah Johnson (Pepperell, Mass.) finished three times for her first collegiate hat-trick, while goalkeeper Victoria Cruz (Duncanville, Texas) was a stalwart in between the pipes to help the Scotties beat the Spirits for the first time in 16 tries dating back to the 2009 season.

With both teams fresh off of exciting wins in the heat on Saturday, Sunday's matchup was an absolute mystery coming into it. The Spirits shocked Covenant with two late goals for a high-scoring 5-4 triumph, while the Scotties did just enough to beat William Peace 1-0 at home.

Salem (2-2) was the aggressor at the start and its pointed attack led to a penalty kick for the Spirits' sharpshooter Ellie Montes (Asheville, N.C.). Montes must have given a tell because Cruz was lockstep in sync with the midfielder, easily stretching out to knock the attempt out to the left.

Johnson—who had shown incredible flashed in each of the team's first two games but was left scoreless—broke out in a big way for the Scotties. The first-year striker always seemed to be in the middle of the action on offense, registering a dangerous shot early that sailed just over the bar. Johnson returned to a dangerous spot once again in the 13th minute and this time the striker gave the Scotties its first lead of the contest.

Val'Dazia Todd (Warner Robins, Ga.), Saturday's hero, delivered a perfect ball up the seam of the defense to give Johnson a one-on-one with the keeper before the finish to the right.

Johnson was at it again just 10 minutes later, but this time Skye Svehlak (Huntsville, Ala.) found her forward on a nearly identical play. Johnson was able to beat her mark before poking into the left corner of the net for a 2-0 lead.

The Scotties led at halftime despite being outshot 11-5 thanks to the heroics of their two first-years.

With its back against the wall, Salem responded firmly with a quick strike to open up the second half. In the 51st minute, Alyssa Denkovich (Greencastle, Pa.) buried a free kick from just outside the 18. The senior sent it directly into the top left corner over the reach of Cruz.

A youthful side stood at a crossroad against a veteran-laden lineup with momentum beginning to swing to the side of the Spirits when Johnson put on the cape once again. The forward was surgical in bringing the ball in from nearly midfield through the heart of the Salem defense before sending a screaming liner to the bottom left corner on a bounce for an answer and a 3-1 lead.

The Spirits continued to claw its way back with a goal in the 80th minute on a fast-break score from Baylee Greenwood (Mount Airy, N.C.) and nearly tied the game three minutes later on another strike from Greenwood. However, just as she had in similar situations earlier in the game, Cruz got just enough on the ball for the game-altering save.

Salem's comeback magic ran out with a corner kick in the waning moments that fell short of the box.

Hannah Wagner made five stops in a full game of work for the Spirits.

Cruz's excellent day saw her finish with 12 saves to earn a second victory of the season in goal.

Salem outshot the Scotties 21-9 for the game and held a firm 6-0 advantage in corner kicks despite the end result.

Agnes Scott (2-1) will have a six-day break before returning to Gellerstedt Field for a 2 p.m. start with Berry College next weekend. The Spirits head to Sweet Briar on Wednesday for a 4:30 midweek game.