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GIRLS' SOCCER: Jubilant Lady Bearcats celebrate 30th District title

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By John Herndon

SHELBYVILLE – It’s only been three years since Anderson County had tasted the sweetness of a district soccer championship, but the jubilation branded on the Lady Bearcats’ faces emphasized the fact that it had been too long.
Much too long.
Anderson used a pair of first half goals to defeat Spencer County, 2-0, in the 30th District Tournament championship game last Wednesday at Collins High School.
The Lady Bearcats, raced to midfield to receive their trophy and rejoiced like a team that knew it was better than its pedestrian 9-10-3 record.
“It has been a while,” said Anderson coach Jason Earnest. “The seniors were freshmen the last time we did it. It feels good. Feel real good.”
The Lady Bearcats got the only goal they needed when Madeline Wilson delivered a free kick from only about 3 to 4 yards out midway through the first half.
Spencer had passed the ball back to the goalkeeper, who inexplicably picked the ball up, earning a handball call right in front of the net. Spencer filled the net with black-shirted players, but Madeline Wilson connected half way through the first half.
Autumn Miller took a cross from Makenzie Cann in the 37th minute, then made a spectacular shot to an open net as the Spencer goalie had been tangled just to the right of the net.
The Anderson defense took care of business the rest of the way, as Spencer only had two real chances to score all game. The second came with 11 minutes to play after a questionable foul had been called on the Lady Bearcats. The free kick, from about 25 yards out, hit the cross bar and bounded awy.
Anderson bottled up Spencer’s Madison Ratchford, one of the state’s leading scorers, averaging almost two goals a game. Spencer had upset Collins, 2-1 in a shootout, in the tournament’s first round.
“They have some very nice players. They don’t have a deep bench. I think that is why you started seeing the tide turn in the second half,” Earnest said. “We were able to use our bench. They have some nice players. They have a good team.
“In the second half, we didn’t score, but we did a good job of keeping the ball in the second half. They wore down. I think that is a little intimidating that we would have four or five subs come in and they would have maybe one.”
“We knew we had them 2-0 at halftime. (Earnest) told us not give to up and look past them to the region. We knew we had to try hard,” said Anderson senior Andrea Melanson.
 Another senior, Morgan Abner, added, “He pretty much said we would have go come out strong. They came back on us last time (a 4-2 Anderson win.)
As the celebration began, the Lady Bearcats put three years of frustration behind them. From 2004-2010, the Lady Bearcats had been in a district with perennial power Woodford County. Despite often being ranked in the state’s Top 25, Anderson had only taken two district titles from Woodford. Under a new alignment, Anderson felt its district chances were very good.
“It had been rough going through all of that and knowing we could beat (Woodford). We never did finish,” said Melanson. “We did our freshman year and now we were able to do it in our senior year. It is a great feeling.
Few would call the current Lady Bearcats one of the top three or four teams in Anderson history, but they were able to claim a crown.
And the jubilation verified the fact.

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All-tournament team
Members of the 30th District All Tournament team were: Nicole Curtsinger, Makenzie Cann, Andrea Melanson and Morgan Abner of Anderson County; Cheyenne McKinley, Haylee McManus and Madison Ratchford of Spencer County; Marysa Maier and Miranda Maier of Collins; Anna Collins and Callie Greiner of Shelby County.