By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
That’s all it took for South Laurel to score the first of 11 goals Monday night in the 11-1 win over Letcher County Central in the first round of the girls’ state soccer tournament at South Laurel.
The goal came off a corner kick by Kristen White, as she sent an in swinger toward the Lady Cougars’ goal where keeper Meggen Johnson went up to punch the ball away, but instead punched it into her own goal. After that, the goals started to pour in, with the game ending in the 57th minute due to the Mercy Rule.
With the win, the Lady Cardinals (15-6-1) became the first girls’ soccer team in the county to advance to the Elite 8, where they will face No. 1 Notre Dame Saturday at 5 p.m. at Lafayette High School in Lexington.
“All I can say is Elite 8, baby,” a jubilant South Laurel coach Todd White said. “I thought we were focused coming into the match. We attacked but our defense was a little soft.”
The defense might have been “soft,” but the offense surely wasn’t. Especially Karli Parker. The South Laurel striker scored six times against Letcher County Central (12-4-1), including four in the first half as the Lady Cards built a 7-1 lead.
After White’s opening goal, Mariah House scored in the 5th minute off an assist from Haley House to make it 2-0. Haley House scored the first of her two goals in the 15th minute for a 3-0 lead.
Then it would be all Parker the remainder of the half, scoring in the 22nd, 32nd, 35th and 37th minutes to give her team a 7-1 advantage at the half.
The last goal came due to some beautiful passing between Parker, Haley House and Kristen White, as that trio took the ball down the right side, with House crossing the ball to White. She missed on her attempt to strike the ball, but Parker was there to fire it past Johnson.
The lone Letcher County Central goal came in the 33rd minute off a free kick by Carlie Combs. At the time, South was up, 5-0, and White had to remind his team at the half about what happened last season when these two teams met in the region finals.
“When they scored that goal off a free kick it brought back bad memories of last year,” White said. His team had built a 3-0 lead before allowing five unanswered goals, all off set plays, in a 5-3 loss. “We made some adjustments at the half. I told our girls you can’t give someone 25 to 30 yard shots at our keeper.”
South Laurel added four more goals in the second half to complete the 11-1 rout. Haley House scored in the 49th minute off an assist from Kayla Cornett. In the 51st minute, White and a Letcher player both struck the ball at the same time in the Lady Cougars’ half of the field. The ball bounced to Logan Joyce, who fired a shot from around 20 yards out to make it 9-1. Parker then scored in the 54th and 57th minutes.
“We were much more intense in the second half,” White said. “The first half we weren’t possessing the ball like I wanted. We made that adjustment at the half and our possession got better.”
South Laurel now advances to face the state’s No. 1 ranked team in Notre Dame Saturday in Lexington. The Lady Pandas defeated Bishop Brossart, 2-1, to advance. They come into the South match with a 23-2-1 record, having not lost to a Kentucky team this season. St. Henry did hold them to a 0-0 draw.
Notre Dame’s defense has allowed only 10 goals this season. The Lady Pandas have scored 81 and are riding a 15-game winning streak. They are led by Ellie Eckerle’s 17 goals, followed by Mandy Arnzen’s 12 and Katy Zembrodt’s 10.
South Laurel has scored 110 goals while allowing 26. The Lady Cards are on a 5-game winning streak and have won 13 of their last 15 games.
South has four players in double figures in goals: Karli Parker, 38, Kristen White, 14, and Haley House and Mariah House both have 13.