By Denis House
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
When North Laurel beat South Laurel 3-2 in 2000, the Jaguars never dreamed they would have to wait 12 more years to accomplish that feat again.
But wait they did, watching the Cardinals go 16-0-1 against them and outscoring them 70-8 over that stretch.
All that is in the past now, as a Keaton Kennedy goal off a free kick in the 3rd minute of Monday night’s match was all the scoring North would need, as it prevailed in the London Derby, 1-0. The win moves North Laurel to 8-4-0 and 2-1-0 in the district, while South falls to 4-8-1 and 1-2-0 in district play.
“This is a huge win for us,” North Laurel coach Mark Acampa said. “We got the monkey off our back. Last year we played them three times and all were close. This means a lot to our seniors.”
North Laurel’s six seniors had a Senior Night they will remember for a long time. Before the match, Blake Nantz, Sam Marcum, Hayden Riley, Garrison Burchell, Nathan Carter and Austin Rader were all honored. Those six were just young children in 2000.
The last time North beat South, George W. Bush was elected president, gas was $1.26 a gallon, the first X-Men film was released, and Santana featuring Rob Thomas ruled the airwaves with “Smooth.”
Kennedy’s goal came off a free kick from 20 yards out, after he was fouled. He placed his shot just over keeper Carl David Weaver, who got his fingertips on the ball but couldn’t stop it from going in.
The game was a very physical affair with five yellow cards issued, two of them to Kennedy, both on running into a South player with no attempt to play the ball. The second yellow, in the 42nd minute, meant Kennedy was ejected from the game and the Jaguars would have to play almost the entire second half a man down.
“I was feeling good when North went a man down,” South Laurel coach Amber Hensley said. “But you can’t beat a team when you pass the ball to them.”
“I should have been worried when we went down a man, but I wasn’t,” Acampa said. “I told the team at the half that they were up a goal and to protect the lead and the ball. A couple of insurance goals would have been nice though.”
But that other goal never came, but not for lack of trying and opportunities.
After Kennedy picked up his first yellow card in the 13th minute, he found Marcum in the 17th, but Weaver came out to cut down the angle and Marcum’s shot hit the side netting.
Five minutes later it would be that duo hooking up again, only this time Marcum’s shot was saved by Weaver. Levi Seidel and Marcum had chances later in the half but failed to finish.
“In the first half nobody went to the ball,” Hensley said of her team’s play.
Now leading 1-0 and a man down in the second half, it was up to the Jaguar defense to try and contain the Cardinals who were playing without the services of Tanner Chaney, Austin Rader and Rivers Adkins, three of their key offensive threats.
South continued to fire shot after shot but with no success. Hensley said her team’s lack of finishing, coupled with bad passing, was the difference in the game. Kennedy’s second yellow, along with yellow cards to Austin Phelps, Seth Hale and Jacob Beckham, were issued in the half.
“I hate this for the boys,” Hensley said of the loss. “But we are lacking in the fundamentals.”
Acampa said last year’s close games proved to his team that they could play with the Cardinals.
“They were able to see that they could do it,” Acampa said.
These two teams will meet again on October 4 at South Laurel. The Cards are off until Oct. 2 when they will host Pulaski County. North Laurel was scheduled to travel to Middlesboro Thursday.