By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
After winning its first two games by a combined score of 10-0, North Laurel hit its first bump Monday with a 6-1 loss to Estill County. For North Laurel coach Mark Acampa, it was part of what he expects to be a learning experience.
“The chemistry was one of the big things I said coming into the season. I was a little discouraged by the fact that as a team we haven’t been on the field together and being able to practice,” Acampa said.
Maybe it was the unusually hot day, but from the beginning Acampa thought his team moved a little slower and with less purpose.
“(Effort) wasn’t what it should have been in the beginning. I though they gave up on the ball early if they got beat. Their heads went down,” Acampa said. “We lost a lot of 50-50s waiting for passes to come to them instead of going to the ball.”
The scoring started quickly and had the look of a shootout in the opening minutes. Less than two minutes into the game, the Engineers Andrew Witt opened the scoring. It would be about a minute later when Hunter Riley lofted a shot over the keeper for North Laurel.
“We were fortunate to get the one goal we did from Hunter. That’s actually a shot we’ve been working on from that particular spot on the field. I was glad to see that,” Acampa said.
But it would be all of the scoring for North Laurel. Estill County took the lead for good on a penalty kick with 21:49 in the half. They would add two more goals in the first half, including one on an open goal, for a 4-1 lead.
“We had plenty of opportunities to match the score or surpass their score, but if you were watching the game you saw that most were passes to the keeper rather than shot at the goal,” Acampa said. “That was our biggest problem was executing and finishing those shots.”
In the second half, North Laurel would continue to miss its opportunities. Estill County would capitalize on two more. The Engineers got a goal from Austin Witt with 27:54 to play. With about 6 minutes, a follow by Josh Baber made it a 6-1 game.
Acampa expected a challenge from Estill County based on last year’s contest.
“I mentioned before we even played them that last year was a tough game. We won 4-2 and it could have gone either way. Coming in I knew this was going to be a really tough game,” Acampa said.
The Jaguars will try to get back on track with a home game against Southwestern Thursday. The Warriors lost their first two games before posting a 2-0 win over South Laurel.
“We know it’s going to be a rough season. There are going to be some ups and downs. My biggest challenge as a coach is to keep the spirits high and unite them as a team,” Acampa said.