Boyle pulls away for third straight district soccer title
Published 9:45 am Thursday, October 5, 2023
By MIKE MARSEE
LANCASTER – It was a close game and a blowout rolled into one, and both of them were just what the Boyle County girls needed.
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The Lady Rebels were tested for the first time in two weeks, and they rose to the challenge with an offensive outburst that extended their domination of the 45th District Tournament.
They found themselves in a close game with Garrard County in the first half of the district championship game Wednesday night, but they turned a 1-0 halftime lead into a 9-0 romp that sent them into next week’s regional tournament on a roll.
“We needed a good, tough first half. … What I’m most proud of, though, is that at halftime we made two adjustments and once we made those adjustments the game changed,” Boyle coach Brian Deem said.
Boyle (15-5-1) won its third consecutive district championship and its 15th in 17 years, including 10 in 12 years of the current configuration of the 45th District.
The Lady Rebels won four games against district opponents this season by a combined score of 34-0, and they had won their previous four games by a combined score of 31-0.
The first half of this game played out very differently, however, as Boyle managed only one goal despite outshooting Garrard 14-0.
“We muddied it up,” Garrard coach Brett DeShon said. “We played physical, we rotated well, we shifted well, we were the aggressors, I think we won the mental battle in the first half. We had one hiccup, and that allowed them to get the lead, but I was so proud of the effort and the fight our girls showed tonight.”
Boyle junior Ellie Kendrick, who scored the lone first-half goal in the 20th minute and was one of three Boyle players with two goals in the game, said the Lady Rebels could benefit from being pushed for the first time in some time.
“It definitely helps us working as a team and talking and making sure we are all communicating,” Kendrick said.
And Deem said the 1-0 halftime score was not a result of poor play on Boyle’s part.
“I thought we did a lot of great things,” he said. “Their keeper played outstanding, and we had opportunities and we did what we wanted to do.”
Garrard goalkeeper Erica Heibenthal had eight saves in the first half – including a handful of noteworthy stops that kept the game from getting out of hand before it did.
“We know what we’re going to get from her every single game,” DeShon said. “This girl’s only played three years. We recruited her as a basketball player because we saw something in her .. and she’s more than exceeded what we wanted.”
Boyle’s second-half barrage began with a goal by Addison Hazlett 54 seconds into the period and continued with two goals by Ellery Taylor, second goals by Hazlett and Kendrick and one goal each by Reagan Britt, Maggie Gnann and Payton Bugg.
“We switched a system of play, and we changed where we wanted to get the ball into because we noticed a gap that was exposed … and it started to open up,” Deem said. “I think at the end of it we wore them down and we just kept attacking, and that’s what we want our kids to do.”
The Lady Rebels will be on the attack in next week’s 12th Region Tournament at West Jessamine, where they will seek to end West Jessamine’s seven-year run of regional titles and win their first since 2015.
“We have been working for region title all year … so we’re definitely ready,” Kendrick said.
Garrard (11-9-2), which won only two games last season and has no seniors this year, will make only its second regional appearance and its first since 2019.
Reagan Britt, Boyle County; Peyton Bugg, Boyle County; Maggie Gnann, Boyle County; Addison Hazlett, Boyle County; Adria Major, Garrard County; Hallie Mullins, Danville; Ellie Pennington, Danville; Ivy Sadler, Danville; Hannah Snowden, Garrard County; Hallie Stafford, Lincoln County; Ava Warren, Garrard County.