Boyle boys use topsy-turvy week to prep for soccer’s postseason

Published 12:13 pm Thursday, September 14, 2023


Contributing Writer

STANFORD – It was in some ways productive and in some ways frustrating, but in every way it was an interesting week for the Boyle County boys soccer team.

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The Rebels rode a roller coaster through a seven-day span that started and ended with important victories and included a pair of aggravating losses.

The ride ended Tuesday night when Boyle pulled away in the second half for a 5-1 victory over Lincoln County in a 45th District game.

That win was preceded by three challenging games that made up the latest chapter in a challenging schedule designed to prepare the Rebels for the postseason.

“I think it makes us better,” senior forward J.D. Cooley said. “I think you only get better by playing good teams because you want to see what you can do to improve to play those teams in region or state.”

Boyle (8-7, 2-0 district) tried to turn the page Tuesday night on a disappointing defeat to DeSales on Saturday in a Kentucky 2A Championships semifinal.

The 2A game in Owensboro, in which DeSales scored the only goal after a couple of ejections, was both confounding and controversial.

“It was absolutely mind-boggling,” Cooley said. “It was an experience unlike any other.”

Boyle coach David Ritchie said it wasn’t easy for the Rebels to put that behind them.

“I think it was very difficult, especially to keep the mental side of it after the tough loss on Saturday. But the guys, especially in the second half, responded well,” Ritchie said.

Host Lincoln (1-8-3, 0-3) kept Boyle bottled up until the Rebels took a 1-0 lead late in the first half on a goal by Cooley.

“Lincoln came out with a good game play and played really hard. We didn’t have the crispest first half we’ve had, but a lot of it has to go to Lincoln,” Ritchie said.

The Rebels broke the game open after halftime with two goals by Bo Little and one each by Matthew Britt – who also had two assists – and Alan Wireman.

“At the start of the second half we found our passes and we found our width, and that really created some goals,” Cooley said.

Boyle’s odyssey started Sept. 6 with a 2-1 victory over Somerset in a battle between two of the 12th Region’s top teams at Madison Central’s Tribe Shootout.

“We really screwed our heads on right, and I think that’s going to carry us towards the end of the season,” Cooley said.”

The Rebels returned to Richmond the next day, where they lost to Bryan Station for the second time this season, falling 2-1 to go to 0-6 against Lexington schools.

Two days later they were in Owensboro, playing in the 2A final four for the second consecutive year. They believed they had a shot to win the tournament, but once again it wasn’t to be.

“It was the same story last year: We got to the final four and we were getting ready to go straight into district and region,” Cooley said. “(We realized) we need to start doing things now or our season’s going to be over.”

That sense of urgency is there again with only five regular-season games remaining, and Ritchie said the Rebels will be better for having played the caliber of teams they have faced so far this season.

“It definitely helps us with the speed of play,” he said. “You have to stay focused for 80 minutes, you have to stay crisp or you’re going to give up goals. Playing that level of competition, it makes you play faster.”

Boyle girls lock up top seed

The Boyle County girls posted their fourth straight shutout victory and clinched the No. 1 seed for the 45th District Tournament with an 8-0 victory over Lincoln County on Tuesday.

Host Boyle (9-4-1, 3-0 district) outscored its three district opponents 38-0.