• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports

Boys’ soccer gets comeback win over Scott County, blanks Western Hills

NOAH HAYES attempts a shot through three Cardinal defenders at the WCHS boys’ soccer game on Aug. 24. (Photo by Bill Caine)

The Woodford County High School boys’ soccer players were full of smiles walking off the turf at Toyota Stadium in Georgetown after defeating Scott County 3-2 Thursday, Aug 24. The first half possession battle was won by the Jackets, but they could not capitalize on their chances and went into the half frustrated. “There is a great frustration for this team,” said Coach Fonyam Atanga. “We continue to go into the half trailing in a game that we dominated possession. I’ve said it repeatedly, and I know the guys are sick of me saying it. I can’t say what kind of adjustment we made physically going into the second half but I know the team made a mental adjustment and it made a big difference for us.” At the start of the second half, the Jackets switched into high gear and forced the ball into Scott County’s end of the field time after time. After a couple of close shot attempts, the Jackets scored. Brandon Cromwell muscled past a defender to score and give the Woodford squad momentum. “One thing about Brandon is, I don’t care how hard they hit him, he’s not going down,” said Atanga. “In the second half, we were able to execute on the chances that Scott County gave us. We kept saying, don’t put your head down. Get one (goal), and it will lead to more and tonight it did.”

HUNTER PENN delivers a header in the first half against Western Hills. (Photo by Bill Caine)

The game was physical, and at one point the head official warned both sides about how rough the game was getting. When the action picked back up, Drew Blaydes made a booming kick from the 10-yard line over the leaping keeper to tie the game. Woodford continued to keep the pressure up and forced Scott County into playing defensively. After shot attempts by Hunter Penn and Marcus Watson were stopped, Brandon Cromwell was headed towards the keeper when he was undercut by a Cardinal defender. The officials blew the whistle and signaled a penalty kick. Drew Blaydes made the kick and scored off the keeper’s hands. The remainder of the game was dominated by the Jacket attack, and the Cardinal offense was prevented from a chance at tying the game. “Any time you can win a regional game, it’s a good thing,” said Atanga. “We go into district play next week at home, and the competition is always tough. We will have to be ready.” Western Hills The Jackets defeated Western Hills 3-0 Tuesday night, coming out fast and attacking Western Hills’ defense for multiple chances in the first five minutes. After a handful attempts at scoring over the keeper’s head, the Jackets broke through with a goal by Chris Phelps assisted by Brandon Cromwell. Woodford controlled the ball the nearly the entire half. The attack came from all angles, and if not for some crafty goal-keeping by Matthew Meyer of Western Hills, the game would have been out of hand midway through the first half. Meyer made numerous leaping saves to keep Woodford off the board. “We need to improve on capitalizing on chances,” said Atanga. “We can’t have 14 shots and have three goals. Their keeper is young but skilled, and he absolutely saved some great shots from us tonight.” Every Wolverine chance of advancing the ball to midfield was thwarted by Jacket midfielders sending the balls back to the Woodford attackers. Chris Jackson scored the second goal of the first half off a Chris Phelps assist with less than a minute on the clock. “We have some plays that we work on at practice, and tonight we were able to get some going,” said Atanga. “Plays that we have practiced a hundred times and we made them work today.” In the second half, the Jackets featured more pressure to keep the Wolverines on their heels. Jackson fired off a free kick that bounced off Brandon Cromwell’s head for a goal to make the score 3-0. “We are building every day towards the post-season,” said Atanga. “We need to have better efficiency, and it’s important to have that as we head into more district games. We’ll be ready.”

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