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Boyle County tops Bethlehem on penalty kicks

Two days prior to kickoff, Boyle County girls soccer coach Brian Deem knew Wednesday’s matchup with Bethlehem was going to be a battle.

Not that anyone should doubt his word, but he was proven right.

Becca Tarter nailed a header off a Kylie Thompson corner kick in the second half, and Emmie Harris, Abby Carter and Elizabeth Lyons all hit penalty kicks after regulation ended tied to give Boyle the 2-1 win in the semifinals of the Spine Center Classic at Rebel Stadium.

When talking about Thompson’s corner kick after the game, Tarter’s eyes got wide and a huge smile went across her face.

“I thought, ‘Get it up, get it up,’ and I saw it and I called it,” Tarter said, calling off teammate Emmie Harris. “I just backed up and headed it. It feels so good when you feel it hit off the top of your head. … It might have hurt a little bit, but that goal takes the pain all away.

“I honestly think there’s some tissue damage. It doesn’t hurt as much anymore.”

Deem called it the turning point of the match. To that point, Boyle had countless looks at the goal, many of them skirting just wide or sailing high, but the Rebels were staring at a 1-0 deficit.

All it took was one misplayed ball in the first half for Bethlehem to take the lead. The Rebels played a ball into the middle of the field on defense, and Abigail Proctor put home the ball with 27 minutes, 14 seconds remaining until halftime.

“I think we left way too many goals on the field tonight,” Deem said. “We played very hard tonight, but we did not play with composure and fundamentals and did not keep to our basic platforms of offensive and defensive schemes.

“We possessed the ball well, we put pressure on them, but we never had that person keep their composure and finish. We had numerous times in the first half and second half, and as the game wore on, we started to look for someone else to help me out a little bit instead of do their job.”

The score stayed steady until Tarter sent home her header with 27:44 to play in the second half. She nearly had a header off a corner for a score in the first half. At 6-foot-1, Tarter casts an imposing shadow in the box during corner kicks, along with the 6-foot Emmie Harris.

“That’s the play we do with her and Emmie,” Deem said. “Six-one and six-foot, absolutely, we just play some balls up there with some other runs. It’s huge.”

Then add in the perfect placement of Thompson’s kick, and the Rebels have a potent weapon.

“She’s very good about placing the ball,” Deem said. “When the ball was lifted up, I saw there was an angle, (Tarter) was unabated and if we could just get on top of it and keep it down, we’d be fine.”

Both team made furious attempts at goals in the final moments of regulation to no avail. Skipping any overtime, the game went directly to penalty kicks.

Harris hit the first for a 1-0 lead, and after Thompson’s shot was saved by the Bethlehem keeper, Carter gave Boyle a 2-0 lead. Lyons made her attempt for a 3-2 lead, and when Boyle keeper Sarah Burns made her second save in the session, the Rebels won the PKs 3-2.

“As a keeper, the pressure is kind of off you because you’re not supposed to save it, but if you do then you’re the hero in a way,” Burns said. “For me, it’s reading their body, visual cues — where their hips are, if they’re left-footed or right-footed, and then just picking a side and going with it. And that’s the thing, you just really have to trust yourself.”

Even with though she said there’s no pressure going into the PKs, Burns made a save on the final Bethlehem attempt to seal the win.

“Of course, you want to win for your team,” she said. “You don’t want to drag it out, you want to secure the win as soon as you can.”

Deem told Burns he needed one save out of her on the PKs. He got two.

“She’s got great length, she’s so long,” Deem said. “She reads the ball well, and she reads the shooter’s hips very well. … She’s big in there. I think that’s one of the things that’s intimidating to shooters is how big she is; she’s almost six foot.”

Bethlehem fell to 10-4, going down to Boyle for the second time in two straight games; the Rebels won the previous matchup 2-0 in the final of last week’s Bulldog Cup.

Boyle won its sixth straight game and improved to 15-1. The Rebels advanced to face the winner of tonight’s Male-Dunbar matchup in the tournament’s final at 4 p.m. Saturday.

MADISON SOUTHERN 1, MERCER COUNTY 0 — The Titans fell for the second time this week at the Spine Center Classic. They had previously lost to Madison Southern 2-0 on September 14.

The Titans will face either Thomas Nelson or Anderson County at 10 a.m. Saturday at Rebel Stadium.

Follow Jeremy Schneider on Twitter @jschneideramn