• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

WCHS boys’ soccer team wins third-straight district title

41ST DISTRICT CHAMPIONS. On Thursday, Oct. 13, at home in Community Stadium, the Woodford County High School boys’ soccer team defeated Franklin County 2-0 to win the 2016 41st District Championship. It was the fourth consecutive district title for the Yellow Jackets. Team members shown are, from left, Fonyam Atanga (head coach), Xaylen Lanier, Jacob Christian, Chris Jackson, Gavin Nicholson, Avery Whisman, Brandon Cromwell, Mason Coburn, Noah Hayes, Chris Phelps, Drew Blaydes, Lane Moore, Glenn Fister, George Stanley, Maclain Evans, Jose Caloca, Alex Karbach, Trevor White, Josh Cromwell, Marcus Watson, Trevor Sparks, Nathan Sandman and Mike Hayes (assistant coach).  (Photo by Rick Capone)

At the start of this season, Woodford County High School boys’ head soccer coach Fonyam Atanga noted that he had a young team and that this would be a “rebuilding year” – unless the team proved him wrong. Well, prove them wrong his team did. On Thursday, Oct. 13, at home in Community Stadium, the young Woodford team defeated Franklin County 2-0 in the 41st District championship game, and captured its third consecutive district title. “We were very composed and patient even though we found it difficult to make any of our early opportunities count,” said Atanga. “I thought we controlled the game for long periods in each half.” With the win, Woodford advanced to the 11th Region tournament, which will be held at Bryan Station, Monday through Thursday, Oct. 20, with the final being held at Lafayette on Saturday, Oct. 22. After the game, Woodford’s Maclain Evans, Trevor White and Alex Karbach were named to the 41st All-District tournament team, while Glen Fister was named MVP of the tournament. In the game, the two teams battled back and forth in a solid display of defensive soccer, as both teams kept the other team in check the entire first half. Woodford did have a few scoring opportunities, but could not get a good shot on goal. The same was true for Franklin County, which had two corner kicks to Woodford’s three. As the two teams headed to the locker room for the half time break, the scoreboard showed it was still a scoreless game. In the second half, Woodford came out strong, as they made a few attacks into Franklin County’s end of the field, but came up empty. Then at 35:26, Woodford made another strong attack, which ended in senior Glen Fister getting a pass right in front of the net. He wasted no time and kicked it right past the Flyers’ goalkeeper and gave Woodford a crucial 1-0 lead. “His (Fister’s) goal came from a tactical change we implemented at half time,” said Atanga. “It’s always good to see players execute game plans when changes are made. A very good build-up down the right to (Christopher) Phelps who made a good cross that ended up with (Maclain) Evans heading back across to Fister for a fantastic finish.”

ALL DISTRICT AND MVP HONORS. Glen Fister, far left, was named the MVP of the 41st District Tournament, while three others, starting second from left, Maclain Evans, Alex Karbach and Trevor White, were named to the 41st District All-Tournament team. (Photo by Rick Capone)

After that score, the game resumed a defensive battle, as Woodford worked hard to ensure Franklin County did not get anywhere near the net, while the Yellow Jackets continued to try and penetrate the Flyers’ end of the field and work for another goal. Woodford’s play finally paid off when, with 6:24 left in the game, senior Jose Caloca received a pass from Evans and kicked it into the net to give the Yellow Jackets a much-needed insurance goal and a 2-0 lead. “Caloca’s goal came at a time when we really needed it,” said Atanga. “We probably could’ve controlled the game and played out a 1-0 win, but that goal took the fight out of Franklin County. A great ball from Fister to Caloca who had a fantastic first touch and placed it calmly around the keeper.” Franklin County fought hard to try and catch up, and even had a couple good chances, but were thwarted each time by senior goalkeeper George Stanley, who played “lights-out” in both district tournament games. “Any time you have back-to-back games without conceding is important,” said Atanga. “Part of the reason is because of our defensive organization, but when called upon to make saves, he’s (Stanley) always answered the calls. All credit to him for not giving up any goals and I hope he can keep that up.” The last six minutes of the game, both teams kept each other in check and when the final horn sounded, the Yellow Jackets had a 2-0 victory and their third straight district title. The entire Woodford team played a strong game to get the win. A few players in particular caught Atanga’s eye for their play in the game. “I’d like to mention Josh Cromwell for stepping up the last three games and providing us with a surprise additional package on defense that we didn’t have all season,” said Atanga. “I’d also like to mention the stellar play of our two central defenders – Trevor White and Alex Karbach – who have been outstanding all season long.” Next up, Woodford advances to the 11th Region Tournament at Bryan Station, Monday through Saturday, Oct. 17 to 22. In their first game on Tuesday, Oct. 18, Woodford defeated Scott County, 3-2. With the win, they move on to face Madison Central on Thursday, Oct. 20, at 8:15 p.m. Madison Central advanced with a 2-1 win over Lafayette on Tuesday.

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