Claiborne, Gibbs play to 2-2 tie

Published 10:36 am Saturday, September 14, 2019

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Claiborne hosted Gibbs Sept. 12 in girls high school soccer, but the game was secondary to remembering one of their own. The Lady Bulldogs wanted to honor the memory of Katelyn Cunliffe, and they did an outstanding job doing it. Players wore ribbons, Cunliffe’s soccer number and displayed many other personal tributes to their forever friend and former teammate.

The players from both teams lined up around the midfield circle and after the official blew his whistle both teams bowed heads for a minute of silence in Cunliffe’s memory. After the second whistle, the Lady Bulldogs went to a huddle just to the side of the circle and left it with yet another salute to their friend.

When the game began, Gibbs started slowly but were able to get two goals by the Lady Bulldogs but the problem for the Lady Eagles was that Mollie Bolton was able to blast two by their defenses. The game ended in a 2-2 tie.

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It was a great showing by a Lady Bulldogs team that plays hard each time out and improves during every game. They are expecting to compete when they run out on the pitch, and that is a change of culture that was years in the making.

Claiborne head coach Jeff Sorke spoke about Cunliffe, “The best thing I remember and always will about Katelyn is that she was really coachable and always had a smile. I remember the first time she ever entered a game. She got a pass from a teammate and on her very first touch smashed the ball by the keeper for a goal. That was really a cool moment.”

Assistant coach Jason Mustard said this about Katelyn, “She always had a smile on her face and would always know if someone was down and having a bad day. She would always find a way to lift your spirit. She was that kind of person.”

The sport came in second place that evening, and it was fitting that the only winners were Cunliffe’s family and friends for seeing how much Katelyn meant to so many. Her jersey will now be placed inside the school as a forever tribute to a special Lady Bulldog.

The Claiborne Lady Bulldogs send heartfelt prayers and love to Cunliffe’s family.