By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Usually cross-town rivals don’t open the season against each other.
This year was an exceptional case, as North Laurel traveled to South Laurel Tuesday and came away with a 3-0 win in the London Derby.
“We hadn’t originally had them scheduled as our season-opener,” North Laurel coach Mark Acampa said. “We had other games before this but when we found out that the KHSAA moved the start of the season later this year this became our first game.”
Keaton Kennedy found the back of the net twice, once off a free kick and the other on a penalty, both in the second half, to break open a close game and lead the Jaguars to the win.
“It was a very physical game,” Acampa said. “But the northside is feeling pretty good right now.”
While the southside might not have been feeling as good, Amber Hensley thought her team played well.
“We possessed the ball the majority of the time,” the South Laurel coach said. “We just couldn’t finish. That’s the bottom line. I don’t have anything bad to say about how we played.”
The Cardinals controlled much of the action in the first 20 minutes, but their shots either went high or wide. Despite having most of the possession, it would be North Laurel getting on the scoreboard in the 27th minute when Elijah Whitenack stole the ball from South Laurel’s Austin Hayes just outside of the penalty area, dribbled in and beat keeper Carl Weaver for the 1-0 lead.
The Cards best chance to tie things up in the first half came in the 37th minute when Noah Bronnert’s shot sailed just over the crossbar.
Another chance failed in the 49th minute when Rivers Atkins shot to the far corner was saved by a diving Nick Herrmann. In the 62nd minute, Dakota Brewster’s shot looked to be heading over the head of Herrmann and into the goal, but it was just inches high.
The Cards were called for a foul in the 68th minute, giving North Laurel a free kick from about 40 yards out. Kennedy sent a low shot through the wall and past Weaver to the lower right of the goal to make it 2-0.
Then in the 76th minute, a push in the box resulted in a Jaguar penalty kick, which Kennedy converted from the spot to make the final 3-0.
Afterwards Acampa noted that his defense needed some more work.
“We were exposed on our defense tonight,” Acampa said. “I knew coming in that would be a weak spot. My fear going in was where we haven’t played together much as a team this summer and how our chemistry would be. It will take a while to be where we need to be.”
Hensley said she would like her team to play a little more physically and to get used to playing together.
“We lost a lot of seniors off last year’s team,” Hensley said.
The Cardinals played host to Whitley County Thursday night and will host Letcher County Central Saturday. North Laurel is off until Monday when it will host Estill County.