Boyle boys defeat Danville for regional soccer title
Published 1:13 pm Monday, October 17, 2022
Boyle County has learned how to roll with the changes.
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Frequent coaching changes can cripple any program, but the Rebels have thrived through transition to reach the boys state soccer tournament for the second time in three seasons.
Boyle and its first-year coach returned to the top of the region Saturday, winning the 12th Region Tournament with a 5-1 victory over archrival Danville in the championship game in Nicholasville.
The Rebels’ return to the state tournament extended a remarkable run in which they have won 41 games and two regional titles and made another appearance in the regional finals over the past three seasons with three different head coaches.
They have had four head coaches over the past four seasons, during which time they have gone 52-29-6.
“It just shows how special a group these seniors are to have to go through a different coach each year and find ways to win,” Boyle Coach David Ritchie said.
On Saturday, Boyle (18-4-2) scored two goals in about three minutes just past the midpoint of the first half to gain the advantage over Danville (13-6-4) in the first regional championship game between the crosstown rivals since 2005.
The Rebels added three second-half goals to defeat the Admirals for the third time in as many games this season and the sixth consecutive time over the past three seasons.
Ritchie said the intensity typically seen in a Boyle-Danville game reached another level with the regional title on the line at West Jessamine.
“It was a very tough game, especially in the first half,” he said. “You could see it on both sides. Both teams really wanted it.”
Boyle advanced to the state tournament for the sixth time. The Rebels, who are 4-5 in state tournament games, will host 15th Region champion Johnson Central in a first-round game at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Rebel Stadium.
The winner of Tuesday’s game will play Ryle or Montgomery County in the quarterfinals later this week. Based on KHSAA RPI standings used to determine host teams for the first two rounds of the tournament, Boyle would also host that game if it defeats Johnson.
The Rebels’ celebration Saturday was understated, perhaps because winning the region wasn’t the last line on their list of goals.
“They were definitely very, very excited, but at the same time our (feeling) is we’re not done,” Ritchie said. “We want to win a couple more, and I think these guys definitely have the potential to do it.”
After longtime coach Cris McMann stepped down following the 2019 season, Boyle won the region and a state tournament game in 2020 under Jeremy Carlson, then returned to the regional finals in 2021 under Ty Short before Ritchie, a Danville graduate, took over as coach this year.
“I was definitely a little worried,” he said. “Every coach has different views, different approaches to the game. You just never know how yours are going to align with what they’ve been taught in the past.”
He said strong leadership by the team’s five seniors allayed his fears.
“If they hadn’t been such a positive group of seniors … there’s no way we’d have had the season we’ve had this year,” Ritchie said.
Three of those seniors accounted for four goals in Boyle’s win over Danville, including the two first-half goals that put the Rebels in control.
Tristan Compton, the Rebels’ leader with 31 goals, got the first of his two goals in the 22nd minute, and Jack Little followed with a goal in the 25th minute that made it 2-0.
The Rebels had eked out a 1-0 win over the Admirals 10 days earlier in the 45th District final, but Danville Coach Brent Beauman said his team wasn’t as sharp this time around.
“I think we definitely played better during the district championship, and that caught them by surprise,” Beauman said. “They’re a good team and they’re fast. They do a lot of good stuff, and we just didn’t respond the way we had been (when Boyle scored).”
Compton scored again in the 51st minute to make it 3-0. Sophomore Bo Little, who also had two assists, scored in the 57th minute and Andrew Leines scored in the 67th minute.
Freshman Sasha Wade scored for Danville off a Carter Dilbeck corner kick in the 78th minute to end Boyle’s string of five straight shutout victories,
But Ritchie said the Rebels’ defense played well as it had throughout the regional.
“All six defenders and the keeper were focused for 240 minutes, which was impressive,” he said. “We’ve really been stressing that we’ve got to make sure we don’t give up goals, because we’re confident we can get at least one each game.”
Danville’s season ended with exactly the same number of wins as it had a year ago. The Admirals got off to a 6-1 start before the schedule took a tougher turn.
“About halfway through they just really started clicking together,” Beauman said. “This is a really good team of kids. They work really well together. They really wanted to play together, they really wanted to win together and they trusted each other and what we were asking them to do.”
Beauman said the players were in good spirits after the game, playing music and singing on the bus ride back to Danville.
“This was a hard loss, but how much these guys like being around each other and how enjoyable they are makes it a whole lot better,” he said.
The Admirals lose only three seniors and have a strong sophomore class, so they could contend for titles for some time to come.
“Hopefully they can continue to grow as a group,” Beauman said.
Ritchie said Boyle’s players were in a hurry to get to the school’s homecoming dance after the game, but it wasn’t long before they turned their attention to Johnson (14-7-1), their opponent on Tuesday.
The Eagles defeated Lawrence County 2-1 in the 15th Region final after losing to Lawrence twice during the regular season, and they have outscored three postseason opponents 12-3.