Valley sophomore Lyons scores first goal in girl’s soccer program history

Published 10:01 pm Monday, February 25, 2019

VALLEY — Cullen Milner knew that Tiaura Lyons was gifted.

The Valley boys head soccer coach always encouraged Lyons to join the soccer program, and the sophomore decided to do exactly that once the school started a girls team this season.

“I really wasn’t playing any other sports,” Lyons said. “He saw the potential in me.”

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Lyons began training with the team last summer. Valley girls head soccer coach Travis Engram said that while she could kick the ball without a problem, she needed assistance in placing the ball on her target as a forward.

She became a fast learner, and scores goals often in practice, whether she’s using her left or right leg. Learning fast as an athlete may very well be in her genes, as she’s the little sister of former Chambers Academy athletes Malik and C.J. Lyons. C.J. led the Rebels to the school’s first state championship last November and was nominated to be the AISA Back of the Year. Malik was named the AISA Back of the Year in 2017 for his 2016 season.

After the Valley girls soccer team was shutout in the season-opener against Central, Lyons would get her chance to strike in a real game last Friday night against Russell County. Within the 30-minute mark of the first half, Lyons found herself in the penalty box and struck a goal into the back of the net with her left foot.

“I was just running, and I was trying to get there before they passed the ball to me,” Lyons said. “I knew that the ball was coming toward me, so when it got to me I just booted it.”

It was the first time that Lyons got off a shot in the season’s first two games.

“It feels so amazing,” Lyons said, before smiling remembering the historic moment. “I was so happy when I made it. I was like, ‘did it really go in?’ It was so overwhelming.”

The group of a handful of returners from Valley’s co-ed team last season and the first-time players is blending well so far. The team stays together as a unit while running laps and doing drills during practice.

“I can see the bond coming together with the girls,” Lyons said. “That’s like my family.”

Engram paired many of the experienced upperclassmen with the sport’s newcomers on the team to take them under their wing and guide them throughout the season.

“I feel like it’s important to give each girl the opportunity to connect with an older student to be mentored, to be taught, to be led,” Engram said. “As they move up, they’ll realize that ‘oh, it’s my time to lead.’ We only have one junior, so next year we’ll be relying on current sophomores and juniors. We have to do some more recruiting [of current Valley High School juniors], but that’s the plan to teach leadership as they go through the program.”

Lyons said that Engram was also her favorite teacher, as she takes his history class during fourth period. The head coach said that he was considering not returning this year before being offered his current position, partially due to why he joined the world of education.

“This is really where you build relationships,” Engram said on the field at Rams Stadium during Monday afternoon’s practice. “This is where you go through those hard times. In the classroom, it’s more fleeting. You have 51 minutes, and you’ve got 20 kids in the class. [With coaching], you get to know these 23 girls really well. You get to talk to them on the buses, you spend time with them at practice. You really get to know their true nature, and you help them fight through and learn new things, that way what you’re building is getting a little bit deeper because you’re able to spend more time with them.”

Another Valley underclassman, freshman Samantha Daniel, scored the second goal for the Rams last Friday night, within the 30-minute mark in the second half.