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Austin Reynolds (9) chests the ball down against Johnson Central.

PIKEVILLE—For most of the season, Dylan Berry has been playing sweeper for the South Laurel Cardinals. While he definitely has the skills to play a more offensive role, coach Harmon Hodge felt he needed Berry to tighten up the defense.

In the 16th Region tournament at Pikeville, Berry has been playing up top, as Hodge moved Jeffrey Poston back on defense. Berry has made the most of this move, scoring three goals in two games to help the Cardinals advance to last night’s region final against Corbin. The two teams met three times this season, with South Laurel winning twice.

Berry score twice in South’s opening game, 4-1, win over Johnson Central. Then Wednesday night, he scored the lone goal as the Cardinals beat Perry Co. Central, 1-0.

“We just couldn’t finish,” Hodge said. “We dominated most of the game, and had several opportunities.”

It was Berry’s goal in the 16th minute that proved to be the winner. A couple of minutes later, he could have made it 2-0, but his shot from in front of the goal sailed high over the bar. The Cardinals had several other chances, but failed to produce another goal.

“They (Perry) had only one shot on frame, and that was late in the second half,” Hodge said. The Commodores were also given three yellow cards, while South picked up none.

“I’m thrilled to get out with a win and no cards,” Hodge said.

On Tuesday night, the Cards opened tournament play with a 4-1 win over Johnson Central. Berry scored in the 38th minute as South held a 1-0 lead at the half. Dustin Herron, Tanner Chaney and Berry all scored in the second half, while Caleb Slone scored for the Golden Eagles.

“We played kick ball in the first half,” Hodge said. “We played much better in the second half, but still didn’t possess the ball like I would have liked.”

Denis House can be reached at sports@sentinel-echo.com

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