By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Within the first six minutes of Tuesday night’s opening round game of the boys’ 49th District soccer tournament, North Laurel had already struck for two goals, leaving South Laurel a bit shell shocked.
Those goals would be all the Jaguars needed as they defeated the Cardinals, 3-1, to advance to last night’s championship game against Corbin, who downed Whitley County in a shootout, 3-2.
Afterwards, North coach Mark Acampa said scoring those first two goals early turned out to be more important than he figured.
“With the two yellow cards we got scoring those goals early turned out to be very important,” Acampa said. “We sat the two guys who got those yellows for precautionary reasons. We didn’t want them picking up a second and missing the championship game if we advanced. We didn’t want to run that risk.” South Laurel also picked up two yellow cards in the half in a very physical game.
“It should have been 1-0,” South Laurel coach Amber Hensley said. “We’ve been like this all season. When we get scored on we start to play.”
The first goal came in the 5th minute, when Joshua Carter took a pass from Austin Rader and beat keeper Carl David Weaver for a 1-0 lead. A minute later, it was Hunter Riley scoring for a quick 2-0 advantage.
“Carl told me afterwards that those goals were his fault,” Hensley said. “I told him it was like a pinball game out there with the ball bouncing around and off people. We should have cleared the ball away.”
In the 18th minute, Levi Seidel made it 3-0 in North’s favor. That’s the way the first half ended.
“We were hungry for the win,” Acampa said. “We played a good regular season but I told them from the beginning that it didn’t matter what we did now, it was the district that mattered. Everything else was prep work. To improve and get better.”
The second half saw South Laurel (4-11-1) pressing to try and get back in the game, and North Laurel (12-4-0) trying to hold off any thoughts of a Cardinal comeback. The lone goal was scored in the 74th minute when South’s Jacob Beckham ran onto a through ball as North keeper Nick Herrmann came out to try and make the save. The ball ricocheted off Herrmann and right back to Beckham, who put the ball in the open goal to make the final 3-1.
“Jacob did exactly what I told him to do, run through the ball,” Hensley said. “It’s simple stuff like that that we struggled with this season. But I’m very proud of my team. Noah Bronnert played exceptionally well. We are going to work on getting stronger and playing club ball in the off season.”
The Jaguars met the Redhounds Thursday night for the district championship. The two met back on August 28 with Corbin taking a 5-4 win in a shootout. Both Corbin and North Laurel advance to next week’s 13th Region tournament, with the site yet to be determined. Oneida Baptist and Middlesboro will play Saturday to decide the 50th District winner. Those two teams split during the regular season.