Boyle girls win shootout; The victory was the school’s first regional soccer title since 2015

Published 10:56 am Monday, October 16, 2023


Contributing Writer

NICHOLASVILLE – Things were different this time.

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The differences were small, but they were enough to push the Boyle County girls soccer team back to the top of the 12th Region.

Boyle won the 12th Region Tournament by the smallest of margins Saturday, edging West Jessamine in penalty kicks for a 2-1 victory in the championship.

“It feels crazy,” Boyle forward Mia Kilby said. “It’s really unbelievable right now, because we’ve worked so hard and we put so much effort into this game, and we knew that we could do this.”

None of them had done it before – Boyle last won the region in 2015 and was facing a West Jessamine team that had won every regional title since – but coach Brian Deem said the Lady Rebels carried a confidence that only grew as the game went on.

“As every minute went further along, I think you could see that this isn’t the Boyle of the last four or five years,” Deem said. “This is a new group of kids with a new attitude and with a drive that is just special.”

Deem said that drive was evident even after Boyle fell behind host West Jessamine in the first half.

“Down 1-0 going into the second half, they just kept plugging away,” he said. “I like my team. I just love the girls, the fight they have in them. They just didn’t quit.”

Boyle (18-5-1) hosted Madison Central (15-3-1) on Monday in the first round of the state tournament. The winner plays Russell or Prestonsburg in the quarterfinals later this week.

The Lady Rebels prevailed 6-5 in the penalty kick shootout, where goalkeeper Addie Cannon stopped three of eight West Jessamine shots.

“It’s a little stressful, but I know my team’s not going to blame me,” Cannon said. “I was just thinking about how I’ve got to do my best to help out my team, to try my hardest, that’s all I can do.”

Cannon was as calm as anyone on the field after the game, and Deem said she was no different in the net.

“She just never wavered. She had ice in her veins,” Deem said. “She didn’t get upset, she didn’t get emotional and she made the winning save.”

Once that happened, Cannon saw a wave of Boyle players racing from the bench toward her to celebrate.

“It feels great, and I know we’ve all worked for it so it’s not just about me,” she said.

West Jessamine (9-7-3) had won its previous 29 matches against regional opponents and was 4-0 against Boyle since losing the 2015 regional final to the Lady Rebels, and the Colts took a 1-0 lead Saturday on a goal by Joanna Tucker in the 26th minute.

“I told them, ‘Don’t play the occasion, don’t play the opponent, just play soccer, and if you keep doing it good things are going to happen,’” Deem said.

The score remained at 1-0 until the 55th minute, when the ball came to Kilby about 18 yards in front of the right goalpost. She fired a shot that sliced between two defenders and into the left side of the net to tie the game.

“I was just looking up and I was like, ‘Oh, hey, there’s nobody around me and that keeper’s out of position, so let me just put that to the far post right now,’” Kilby said. “And I seriously thought she was going to get it, and I just played it to the corner and I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, that went in and we just scored.’ That was crazy.”

Kilby said the goal lit a fire under the entire team.

“I feel like everybody was like, ‘We’re in this. We can really get into this game and we could possibly win the championship,’” she said.

Shots were difficult to come by for both teams in what Deem called “a fun, physical game” played on a cold, windy day. The Lady Rebels outshot the Colts 11-8, and there were a total of seven shots on goal before the shootout.

Maggie Gnann, Ellery Taylor and Addison Hazlett made penalty kicks for Boyle in the first round of the shootout. Kilby, Payton Bugg and Hensley Arnold scored in the sudden-death round, and West Jessamine matched the first two shots before Cannon’s final save set off a celebration eight years in the making.

“It has been a long time,” Deem said. “We’ve been close a couple of times, but we found a way to kick the door down. That’s good for us, and hopefully it’s something that we can continue building on in the program for years to come.”

Bugg, Cannon, Reagan Britt and Maggie Burke were named to the all-tournament team, along with Nevaeh Ford-Willkom of Garrard County.