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HHS’ Aya-Ay enjoys birthday with goals, win

By TIM STEPHENS The Herald-Dispatch tstephens@herald-dispatch.comSeptember 20, 2018

HUNTINGTON — Sophie Aya-Ay knows how to celebrate a birthday.

Aya-Ay, 16 on Tuesday, scored two goals, including the game winner, to lead Huntington High (3-4-2) in a 3-1 girls soccer victory over South Charleston (8-3-1) at HHS’ muddy Scotland Yard field.

“We had my party Saturday, but this was fun,” Aya-Ay said.

Aya-Ay’s goal off Claire Burberry’s assist at 42:01 gave the Highlanders a 2-1 lead. Burberry assisted on all three Huntington High goals.

“Claire is so good,” Aya-Ay said. “She’s really good on the give-and-go. (HHS coach Susan McHale) teaches us to work together on those.”

Aya-Ay dashed South Charleston’s comeback hopes with a goal at 76:23. The sophomore standout lofted the ball high over goalkeeper Savannah Parsons and into the net. The play might have appeared perfectly executed, but Aya-Ay grinned as she admitted it wasn’t textbook soccer.

“I didn’t know it was going in,” Aya-Ay said.

The Black Eagles took the lead 6:21 into the contest when Julia Minor scored unassisted.

Huntington High missed three chances to tie, as Bree Damous, Aya-Ay and Burberry bounced shots off the crossbar, narrowly missing turning a deficit into a big lead. The hollow ping of soccer ball off crossbar left the Highlanders with an empty feeling until the 37-minute mark when Faith Worrell tied it off a perfect crossing pass from Burberry.

Goalkeeper Jordan Maynard saved seven of the Black Eagles’ eight shots, stifling a rally. Maynard had plenty of help from the defense in front of her and directed it well, as she called out to teammates where the ball was going before South Charleston made passes.

“We still have a lot to improve,” Maynard said. “There are some passes we could have gotten.”

Maynard, covered in mud from shoulders to toes, did her part, diving to make plays and ignoring a playing surface that Sunday’s and Monday’s rain left resembling a cattle pen.

“I’m used to it,” Maynard said of the mud. “I like it.”

McHale agreed with Maynard’s and Aya-Ay’s assessment that the Highlanders didn’t play well in the first 40 minutes.

“The first half wasn’t good for us,” McHale said. “We stood around a lot.”

McHale’s halftime encouragement led to a better second half. She said she was pleased with the improvement and thrilled for Aya-Ay’s birthday achievement and Burberry’s trio of assists.

“Sophie played fantastic,” McHale said. “I think she had a lot of energy because of her 16th birthday. Claire totally picked it up the second half.”

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