By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
SOMERSET—So far this season for the South Laurel Cardinals has been feast or famine.
With Monday night’s 2-0 loss to Southwestern, the Cardinals (1-3) have been shutout in all three losses. South’s lone win was a 5-1 thrashing of Whitley County. So either they score or they don’t. But it’s not like they haven’t had their chances.
In the second half alone against the Warriors (1-2) South Laurel had 14 shots on goal, nine by Ben Tonkel. Yet they couldn’t find the back of the net, even though Tonkel hit the post minutes after his free kick had sailed high.
Coach Amber Hensley has been at a loss of words to why her team is having such a hard time scoring.
“It’s not like we haven’t had our chances,” Hensley said. “We had our chances Saturday (in a 1-0 loss to Letcher County Central, a game that saw South had 43 shots on goal, controlled possession and hit the cross bar several times). “We had our chances again tonight.”
Southwestern came out and established control early, but it would be South having the best chances to break the 0-0 deadlock. In the 20th minute, Matt Collins’ shot sailed just over the cross bar. In the 24th minute, Logan Watkins ran onto a nice lead ball but his shot was just wide. Five minutes later Tonkel’s shot was saved by the Warriors keeper. Those were just some of the chances South Laurel couldn’t capitalize on.
The defense kept Southwestern at bay, but not without one anxious moment when a shot hit keeper Zach Allen and squibbed toward the goal, where Daniel Poston cleared it off the line. The half would end scoreless.
In the first couple of minutes of the second half it was all Southwestern, but like South Laurel, the Warriors couldn’t finish. Then in the 45th minute it was Tonkel again, but his shot was saved by a diving keeper.
Southwestern finally broke the deadlock in the 49th minute when Pedro Herrera took a pass about 20 yards in front of goal, turned and blasted it high past Allen to make it 1-0. Tonkel then sent a free kick from 30 yards out that forced the Southwestern keeper to tip it over the cross bar. Then at the hour mark Jasper Bowling found Tonkel, but his shot banged off the post. He would have several more chances but never was able to finish.
The Warriors made it 2-0 in the 71st minute as a corner kick got away from Allen and Hunter Flynn was there to pounce on the loose ball and score.
“Ben (Tonkel), Isaiah (Wright) and Evan (Boling) did a very good job tonight,” Hensley said.
The Cardinals will return to Somerset Thursday night when they will face Pulaski County.