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The Lady Bearcats put up a fight, playing one of their best matches of the year, but were unable to overcome fifth-ranked Oldham County in the semi-finals of the Eighth Region Tournament.
The Colonels, playing on their home turf, posted a 3-1 win on their way to a regional championship.
“This was one of our hardest-played games of the year,” said Anderson coach Jason Earnest. “Defensively, we were solid. Offensively, we were just missing and credit their defense for that. We still struggle with making the right decision on passing and shooting in the offensive third, which has been something we have struggled with all season.”
Anderson's only goal came from junior Tiffany Yount, who won a free ball following a free kick in front of the Oldham net, then drove home the score with 30 minutes to play.
Yount's goal drew Anderson within 2-1 and gave some hope that the Lady Bearcats could upset a team that had beaten them 6-3 a month earlier in the Little Caesar's Classic at Boyle County.
“The fans were into it, both of the other teams (Spencer County and South Oldham) were cheering for us as everyone but Oldham wanted to see the underdog win,” Earnest said.
It just was not to be.
“We got another free kick, closer this time,” Earnest said. “Madeline Wilson played a perfectly-lofted pass to the back post. Kenzie (Cann) was crashing in. Just before Kenzie got to it, the keeper tipped it over the bar. It looked as if we were tying it up.”
Oldham finally put things away with five minutes to play when Haley Kemper ripped an 18-yard bullet past Anderson goalie Alyssa Rogers after the Anderson defense was not, as Earnest said, “defensively balanced. … No chance for Alyssa on this one.”
Oldham simply ran out the clock to move on to the final. The Colonels stood at 19-3-1 heading into Monday's opening round game of the state tournament. Anderson finished its season at 10-11-3.
From the outset, Earnest said, the odds had been stacked against the Lady Bearcats against Oldham. “We knew we had our hands full as they had already beaten us. Going into the game, Oldham had only given up nine goals all year and three of them were to us. We also were going to be missing several players either due to injury or fall break. We got a shock when we got to the bus to leave for the game to find out that one of our starting defenders, Lindsay Chelf, had been taken to the hospital and was feeling very ill and wouldn't be able to play.”
Kemper drove a shot home less than five minutes in, then about eight minutes later, Shelby Cohen connected from 30 yards to give Oldham a quick 2-0 lead.
Earnest noted that his team was looking directly into the sun and Rogers might have lost the ball in the bright light.
“The worst part about this was that although we were down 2-0, the game was completely 50-50 up to that point,” Earnest said. “We were going right at them and were creating our own chances. They were faster than us, that was clear. They were moving the ball faster, but we were like a freight train: Slow, steady, but we kept coming at them.”
Cann just missed a scoring opportunity later in the half and Rogers made what Earnest called a “brilliant breakaway save” late in the half to keep Anderson within striking distance.
Earnest challenged his team at the half. “I was very animated and got in their faces,” he said. “I thought we were playing very good socer in this game, just gave up two long-range goals,” he said. “I told them one goal for us can change everything. It swings momentum, it will get everyone excited and into it. We were the underdogs, yet we had played the first half as the aggressor. I told them not to only think we can win, but to believe we can.”
It just was not meant to be.
“After the game, I told them how proud I was at how hard they fought against a Top 10 team. We scored again against them. Only three other teams can boast that this season up to that game,” Earnest said. “I told the seniors how much I appreciate everything they gave to the team. I was proud of the kids. They played for the jersey, their school and for each other. It was not a selfish team and that really showed.
“Teams like this one make me love coaching.”
Anderson Co. 8, Henry Co. 0
Anderson earned only its second regional tournament win ever with an 8-0 thrashing of Henry County in the tournament's first round last Monday. The match was played at the Anderson pitch under a new format that gave a first-round home game to district winners.
Cann scored three times to lead the Anderson attack while Madeline Wilson added two goals. Morgan Abner, Andrea Melanson and Allie Johnson all scored one goal each for the Lady Bearcats.
Joy Andrade and Melanson were both credited with two assists while Brittany Frith, Niki Curtsinger, Cann and Abner all had one.
Rogers recorded her ninth shutout of the year. It was also her fourth consecutive goose egg.
“Henry County was very young, all freshmen and sophomores, I think,” Earnest said. “They struggled throughout the season but they came in and really played hard against us. We won 8-0 but Henry County hustled the entire game. Their goalkeeper was really good and must have had 30 saves on the night.”
Henry, the 31st District runner-up, finished at 3-13-0.
Melanson and Carrie Isaacs were named to the All-Eighth Region Tournament team by the coaches.
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