By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
If you got extra points for degree of difficulty, North Laurel would have beaten Oneida Baptist. Their goals included a long boot from Keaton Kennedy and a beautiful pass from Michael Sizemore to Josh Carter for a goal. Instead that settled for a 2-2 tie.
“I’m not satisfied with a tie. We had what it took to get a win,” North Laurel coach Mark Acampa said.
Oneida Baptist scored on a penalty kick and an own-goal by the Jaguars, overshadowing another strong outing by the North Laurel defense.
“OBI moved the ball. They kind of knew what they wanted to do, but our guys defensively disrupted what they were trying to do and prevented a lot of good shots,” Acampa said.
The Mountaineers got on the board early with a penalty kick after a hand ball in the box. North Laurel tied the score with 11:17 on a Kennedy kick so good even the Oneida Baptist keeper offered compliments. Kennedy was near the sideline about 35 yards out on a direct kick. The keeper heard the ball pass him before his eyes could see it. The half would end with the 1-1 tie.
Nick Herrmann made a flashy save just before the half ended and two early in the second half to preserve the tie. It gave his team a chance to take the lead. Kennedy would get another long kick with 25:50 to play. This time the keeper was more prepared and punched the shot over the goal. From there the Jaguars would play their best stretch of the night.
“We talked about at the half that there is a lot of talent on this team individually, but unless you learn to put it together as a team we’re not going to go anywhere,” Acampa said. “I think they took the words to heart and looked to move the ball around a little bit more.”
North Laurel was playing with a sense of urgency that its coach would like to have seen much sooner. It appeared to pay off with 22:40 when Kennedy stepped into the box for a penalty kick. The Mountaineers keeper blocked the shot and a follow up from Kennedy.
“Hats off to the keeper. He did a good job stopping the PK and the follow up. It’s not often you can do that against Kennedy,” Acampa said.
With 21:00 remaining, Sizemore worked down the sideline and then led Carter with a pass so good he had no choice but score.
“There was better ball movement. They got the ball out to the wings a little more frequently and passing into the middle. That’s what set up the shot for Josh Carter,” Acampa said. “We just have to come out at the beginning of the game like that and not wait to be told halfway through.”
A fluke play with 18:41 remaining would take away the momentum North Laurel had gained. On a direct kick, the Jaguars built a wall between the Oneida Baptist kicker and the goal. When the ball was kicked, Kennedy leaped to try to deflect the ball. It caught just enough of his shoulder to slide past Herrmann and into the goal.
Both teams would get more chances. OBI fired high on another direct kick. They also just missed on consecutive headers. Kennedy scared the goal with a long shot that thundered off the post. In the closing minutes, Herrmann made a diving save and then had to reel the ball in a second time with OBI players landing on his back.
“They played physical and got some good shots off,” Acampa said.
The Jaguars have one day to rest before a district seed game against Corbin.
“It’s not a loss and that will mean something to the guys going into the game Thursday against Corbin. Hopefully we can build on it, get a little bit of rest. These guys are worn. It’s a short bench. There is not much in the way of substitutions. This season has taken a lot out of them,” Acampa said.