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Boyle stays focused, thrashes Garrard

STANFORD — In the team huddle before opening the 45th District girls soccer tournament, Boyle County players said they have to focus on each game like it’s the state final. No matter the opponent, no matter the situation, they are staying focused on each game.

The Rebels took another step toward that goal, ending their game with Garrard County early in the second half thanks to a mercy rule 10-0 decision Monday at Lincoln County.

It was no secret who was the favorite coming into the game — and the district tournament as a whole — as Boyle improved to 21-1 with its 12th straight win, and Garrard ended its season at 4-13.

“We have to take it one game at a time honestly, not look forward and prepare for what’s right now instead of trying to look forward,” Boyle senior Emmie Harris said. “We’ve got to focus and we’ve got to win this game to move onto the next. Anything can happen in a game, so you have to focus on that one game.”

What’s next for Boyle is a rematch with rival Danville, which beat host Lincoln 3-0 in the nightcap. In the regular season matchup five weeks ago, the Rebels scored twice late for a 2-0 win at Danville.

“I thought we did really well tonight, I was impressed,” Boyle coach Brian Deem said. “I didn’t think we were very focused when we got here, and the way we stretched and warmed up, it was a little suspect. But when the whistle blew, they responded and did a lot of things we’ve been working on in practice.”

Harris didn’t wait long to put the Rebels ahead, scoring 52 seconds into the game, getting behind the defense and beating Garrard’s keeper. It was the first of nine goals the Rebels scored before halftime.

After Harris’ goal, Boyle went 13 minutes before its next tally. But from there, the floodgates opened as the Rebels put up four goals — two from Nicole Everman, one from Kylie Thompson and another from Harris — in a seven-minute span for a 5-0 lead with 20 minutes, 13 seconds off the clock.

“It’s relaxing but we also know we’re in postseason, so we know if you lose, your jerseys are hanging up,” Harris said.

The Rebels scored four more times before intermission. Thompson, Harris and Amanda Cossentine each scored over five minutes for an 8-0 lead, and Lauren Steinhauer gave them a 9-0 lead with 5:50 remaining until halftime.

With many of the starters already suited up in their travel gear and shelved for the rest of the game at halftime, the Rebels reserves ended the game within the first five minutes of the second half as Monika Jusufovic tallied for the 10-0 win.

While they were focused on the Golden Lions, the Rebels were playing with an eye to the future in various ways. Deem said some of the mistakes they got away with Monday won’t be so easy to hide as the postseason marches on.

“I got a little unraveled a few times, and I took a few kids out and told them, ‘What you did is fine tonight because you didn’t lose the ball, but you do that playing further down the line against higher level competition, that becomes a turnover, now they’ve countered and they’re down our throats,’” Deem said.

“What’s Cal say, ‘Pressure is a privilege,’” he said, referencing UK basketball coach John Calipari. “I told them this, ‘You’ve worked so hard to earn the respect or notoriety you’ve received this year, it’s a compliment and feel good being one of the hunted instead of the hunter.’

“But I still feel like, we’re a program that’s never been to the final four, so in essence we’re a hunter still, too. We want to get there and see what happens.”

Monday was a good step, a necessary step for Boyle. It’s a the first of what the Rebels hope will be nine straight steps directly up to end their season.

“That’s every team’s goal right now — whoever goes 9-0 is winning the state title,” Harris said. “We’ve got to focus on each game and win each step.”

Follow Jeremy Schneider on Twitter @jschneideramn