• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

WCHS girls’ soccer loses in semis to Henry Clay in FCS

LEILA GRAF dives to stop a penalty kick in Woodford County High School girls’ soccer game at Lafayette against Henry Clay on Saturday, Aug. 20, in the semifinals of the Fayette County Spectacular. Despite getting her hand on this ball, it got past the senior goalkeeper and into the lower left corner of the net. Henry Clay eventually won the game, 3-2, after 12 penalty kicks. (Photo by Rick Capone)

A young Woodford County High School girls’ soccer team reached the semifinals of the Fayette County Spectacular against Henry Clay on Saturday, Aug. 20, in a game that was played at Lafayette. Following wins over Dunbar and Campbell County, Woodford seemed poised to reach the final of the tournament and seemed to be in control of the game at the start with some solid play. But, Henry Clay had ideas and goals of their own. While Woodford played hard in the first half against Henry Clay, the Lady Blue Devils seemed to be getting a little bit faster and just kept attacking throughout the second part of the first half.

SHELBI MORRISON drives the ball past a Henry Clay defender and went on to score her second goal of the semifinals of the Fayette County Spectacular on Saturday, Aug. 20, at Lafayette. The freshman's two goals helped Woodford come from behind to tie the game, 2-2. However, in the end, Henry Clay won on penalty kicks, 3-2.

Eventually, Henry Clay’s tenacity paid off and they scored two goals, the first on a header at 22:05, and the second at 2:18 off some good pass play that resulted in the goal. So at the end of the first half, Henry Clay led, 2-0. “Unfortunately, we gave up a very easy (too easy) goal off of a Henry Clay corner kick,” said Turpin. “The goal gave Henry Clay some confidence and we were a bit defeated, considering how the game had been going for us. It’s at this point we need our leaders on the field to keep us focused and moving forward. “Henry Clay finished another goal, dicing through our backline and at the half we were down 2-0,” continued Turpin. “This was another great early learning experience for our team.” In the second half, some coaching changes to the lineup, and Woodford seemed to come alive. “Down 2-0, now what are we going to do,” asked Turpin. “We had several players really step up. Sophomore Jasmine Collins provided us some second half energy in the center of the pitch. I was particularly happy with junior Ashton Moore’s performance in the game. Patient defense, physical play, simple connecting passes, and her long throw-ins were critical as we moved through the second half. (Also), freshman Mackenzie Tucker provided hard work both at outside midfield and up top.”

Woodford’s hard work paid off, too. At 19:57, freshman Shelbi Morrison worked her way through the middle of the field and launched a shot from the top of the box and past the Henry Clay keeper to make it a 2-1 game. Then at 8:03, it was Morrison again who got past a Henry Clay defender and took a shot that went into the net to tie the game, 2-2. “… Morrison was all over the Henry Clay backline in the second half – knocking in both goals to tie it up with under 10 minutes to go,” said Turpin. The two teams continued to take shots on each others net, but at the end of regulation, the score was tied, 2-2. “What a battle,” said Woodford head coach Brad Turpin Jr. “We dominated possession and had Henry Clay on their heels for the first 15-20 minutes of play. We had lots of energy, especially through the middle of the field from the backline to our forwards. “…To come back from two goals down is not only a massive undertaking, but a good sign as we head into our regular season and district play,” said Turpin. It takes a team with strong mental capacity and physical determination to make this happen. I was super proud to see this type of result.” According to tournament rules, tied games went straight to penalty kicks, and what an event that turned out to be, as it took 12 penalty kicks before Henry Clay got the win, 3-2. In the first five kicks, Woodford’s Camryn Pictor, Caitlyn Burdine, Makayla Devore and Lauren Rankin made their shots, while Henry Clay also made four out of five shots. So, after the first round, the score remained tied. In the second round of kicks, Woodford’s Morrison, Emma Oberlander, Raegan Gilbert, and Makenzie Tucker made their shots, while Henry Clay also missed two shots. So, the score remained tied. In the third round of kicks, Turpin took Graf, who had been playing well, out of the game to try and give his team a psychological edge. Woodford’s Kailee Nobels made the first kick, as did Henry Clay. However, the second Woodford shot, which was taken by Mackenzie Delmonica, was stopped. Henry Clay then made its shot and the game was over with the Blue Devils getting the 3-2 victory. “Wow, the penalty kicks were a grind,” said Turpin. “Each team kicking (12) times. Both teams were consistently finishing their penalty kicks with Henry Clay eventually getting the edge and winning the chance to play for the Fayette County Soccer Spectacular. “This was only our second time participating in the Fayette County Soccer Spectacular, finishing in the finals last season and semis this season. We are competing and winning against the best of the best in Central Kentucky. Great news for our program going forward.” In Woodford’s first game in the tournament, which was played Tuesday, Aug. 16, Woodford defeated Dunbar, 1-0, on penalty kicks. In the second game on Wednesday, Aug. 17, Woodford defeated Campbell County 4-1, to advance to the semifinals of the tournament against Henry Clay. Woodford’s goals were scored by Morrison (2), Rankin and Tucker. Assists were made by Burdine and freshman Isabel Taylor.

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