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Rebels drop final game of regular season against Lexington Catholic

Two different halves on Thursday showcased what Boyle County can — or can’t — accomplish this postseason.

The Rebels hosted Lexington Catholic in their final regular-season game of the boys soccer season, falling 5-3. Boyle was down 4-1 at halftime and 5-1 early in the second half before coming back late in the game.

You schedule a team like Lexington Catholic at the end of the season, you’re prepared for a win or a loss,” Boyle coach Cris McMann said. “If we won that game, great, we’re ready for districts. If we lose it, then, hey, this is what we have to work on, this is what we have to do to get ready for districts.”

McMann said it’s clear that his team can compete with the best, but only when the Rebels play their game for a full 80 minutes.

“The second half was a lot better, if we play that way for a full 80 minutes, we’ll be OK,” he said.”

Lexington Catholic struck first, scoring on a rebounded shot after Boyle keeper Ethan James parried the first shot.

But the Rebels responded quickly, scoring less than a minute later when the ball fell to Caleb Jackson in the box and he powered the ball into the bottom left corner.

McMann said Nik Ruby, Jackson and Ethan Nordine were players who stood out against Catholic.

“Nick and Caleb did stand out,” the coach said. “I think Ethan Nordine worked really hard and played well. The problem is, we have a lot of guys who worked really hard and didn’t play well. That’s tough. They were trying as hard as they could, they just weren’t doing anything.”

Boyle struggled to possess the ball against a talented Knights’ team, but the intensity picked up in the second half. Boyle’s second goal came after Riley Cocanougher crossed to Sergio Mercado, who did well to get his foot to the ball. The ball hit a Knights’ defender in the arm, and the ref called a penalty. Cocanougher converted from the spot.

Boyle’s final goal came from another set piece, with Adrien Van Steenlandt heading home in the final minutes.

The Rebels had chances late in the game but couldn’t convert.

“They don’t play calmly. It’s a lot of just forward, forward, forward playing, ” McMann said of his team. “And we don’t work a whole lot of slowing them down, so if we’re going to go forward, what’s the best way to do it? And that’s how we practice.”

Now, sights are set on the 45th District. The winner of the district tournament will host the 12th Region tournament, meaning there’s much to play for.

“We want to host region. We want to win it,” McMann said. “I think, hopefully, we’ll be playing against Danville (in the 45th District championship), and that will be a really fun game for everybody. A good, cross-town rivalry game.

We’re going to have to play 80 minutes fully focused and with all of our intensity. We’re going to have to play like we did in the second half tonight for the whole 80 minutes. We can’t let up. Danville’s not, they showed us they’re not. We already saw that the first time we played them. They played hard for the whole 80 minutes. They want to win, bad. We have to want to win bad.”

The district tournament starts Tuesday, with the championship game on Thursday.

Follow Matt Overing on Twitter @MOvering