By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
LEXINGTON—Notre Dame continued its trek toward a second straight KHSAA girls’ state soccer title with a 4-0 win over South Laurel Saturday at Lafayette High School.
“Bottom line is we were totally overmatched,” South Laurel coach Todd White said. “Tonight it wasn’t our night. Notre Dame was two steps ahead when they had the ball.” That was for most of the game, as the Lady Pandas had 90 percent of possession in a game that easily could have been 10-0 had it not been for the play of Lady Cardinal keeper Charity Humfleet.
“Charity played as well as any keeper in this tournament,” White said. “I’m so proud with how far she has come in two years.”
Notre Dame (24-2-1) recorded its 18th clean sheet of the season. Through the first two games of the state tournament, the Lady Pandas have outscored their opponents, 6-0. During their run to last year’s title, they scored 14 goals while allowing their opponents just 3.
Coming into the game, the Lady Cardinals (15-7-1) had scored 110 goals on the season, averaging nearly five goals a game. But against the stingy Notre Dame defense, South managed just one shot on goal, coming with just under 15 minutes remaining in the game, on a weak shot from Karli Parker.
Notre Dame put pressure on the South Laurel goal from the opening whistle, and after several near misses or saves by Humfleet, finally broke through when Ellie Eckerle scored in the 8th minute for a 1-0 lead. She just missed a second goal in the 16th minute when her header sailed just wide.
A half hour into the match Katy Zembrodt was able to touch a loose ball past Humfleet as the Lady Pandas took a 1-0 lead into the half.
“Both goals in the first half I thought we were unlucky,” White said.
Notre Dame added two more goals in the second half to complete the 4-0 shutout. In the 57th minute Jamie Bramlage scored on a header off a corner kick, then in the 71st minute, Hannah VonHandorf side volleyed in a cross to make it 4-0.
“It was a tough match,” White said. “They were a good team. At first I thought we were nervous and we didn’t do the things we wanted to do. We knew the only way to compete with them was by possessing the ball. We were a little thin on the bench and just didn’t have the energy. But we aren’t dropping our heads; we were fortunate to be in the Elite 8.”