By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
North Laurel fell to Corbin 6-3 in the championship game of the 49th District Tournament Thursday. Now the Jaguars hope they can make this post season a mirror image of last year.
“We still have a second chance going to the region. We have a chance for a rematch and maybe a reversal of last year where we won the district and Corbin won the region,” North Laurel coach Mark Acampa said.
Trailing Corbin 5-1 at halftime, North Laurel did not feel like they were out of the game. For proof they again only had to look back to last year. The Redhounds led North Laurel 4-1 before the Jaguars rallied to a 4-4 tie. They would lose that game on penalty kicks.
“We knew we had the ability to come back and all year we have been playing as a second half team,” Acampa said. “We come out a little bit slow. Especially when we don’t have time to warm up.”
There wouldn’t be much warm up Thursday with the girls district championship played just before the boys. It was also the coldest night of the season. The Jaguars were still cold when Corbin jumped out to a 4-0 lead.
Tulio Canineu scored the first three goals for Corbin and five goals on the night.
“It took us a little while to figure out what we had to do,” Acampa said.
It took just 2:30 for Canineu to find the net. His first shot came on a nice pass from his brother, Lucas Canineu, but was blocked by keeper Nick Herrmann. Tulio Canineu stayed with the shot and followed for a 1-0 lead.
Two minutes later he would score again. This time Canineu found time to line up his shot. Although Herrmann got a hand on the ball the aim was true to slip the ball just inside the near post.
With 26:45 the brothers played a two-man passing game with Lucas Canineu’s header setting up the third goal for Tulio Canineu.
“Our defense unfortunately let Tulio have his way with them and we paid the price for it,” Acampa said.
With 23:42 in the half, Dylan Browne got one-on-one with the keeper and was able to chip the ball just over his head or a 4-0 lead. Still Acampa did not feel like his team was out of the game.
“We tell them play until the game is over because you never know what is going to happen,” Acampa said.
The Jaguars found the goal with 13:52 in the half. The Corbin keeper made a stop, but then grabbed a North Laurel player in the box to prevent a shot. Keaton Kennedy connected on the penalty kick.
Just over a minute later, Kennedy barely missed on a direct kick. The shot ricocheted off a Corbin players face and sailed just left of the goal. With 11:13 in the half, Evan Dela Pena just missed on a running shot from the top of the box.
The Redhounds did get one more goal before the half ended on a penalty kick by Tulio Canineu.
“We won the second half 2-1. We just got pounded in the first half,” Acampa said. “The second half, once we started running around a little bit, they played a great game.”
The Jaguars first goal of the second half came on a direct kick by Kennedy from 35 yards. With 12:12 to play, Hunter Riley drew out the keeper and then flicked a soft shot past him to make it 5-3.
“At one point when it was 5-3 we had several chances to get it to 5-4,” Acampa said. “It’s a testament to the heart these guys have and their never-say-die attitude.”
In a three minute span, North Laurel got four quality shots. There were two rapid shots with 10:34 to play. A minute later Riley almost connected on a pass from Cole Stenger. At 7:10 a corner kick ping ponged around the box before finally being cleared.
With 4:20 to play, Tulio Canineu sealed the win with 25-yard shot into the upper corner of the goal.
The 13th Region Tournament will be played this week in Corbin. North Laurel will meet Oneida Baptist at 6 p.m,, followed by Corbin-Middlesboro at 8 p.m. The championship will be Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.