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LEXINGTON – The most successful season in Oldham County girls soccer history finally came to a close Nov. 7.
Two rapid-fire, second-half Sacred Heart goals buried the Lady Colonels in a 3-0 Valkyries win at Dunbar High School in the state semifinals.
The loss, the first of the year for OC (23-1-1) ended the Lady Colonels’ season the deepest into the playoffs they’d ever advanced.
“Honestly I’m really proud of us getting this far,” senior defender Karigan Owens said. “It’s never been done, so that’s just an accomplishment.
“Obviously I’m upset we lost. It’s our only loss this season. You never like to lose, but I’m so proud of these girls. They fought to the very end.”
The Lady Colonels won their first two games of state competition convincingly, beating Elizabethtown 6-0 Oct. 28 in the first round and Bowling Green 3-0 Saturday in the quarterfinals.
But SHA (22-1-3) kept OC from getting many good looks, holding the Lady Colonels to three shots on goal. The Valkyries themselves managed seven shots on goal and made three of them count. SHA went on to lose 2-0 to Notre Dame Saturday in the state championship.
“Take your hats off to Sacred Heart, they’re a great team,” OC coach Dan Schulz said. “I’d love to have a best-of-five with them instead of one game. I’m proud of our girls but I told them tonight the better team won and good luck to Sacred Heart in the finals.”
The Lady Colonels and Valkyries played a scoreless first half, with SHA controlling the first 20 minutes and OC generating some chances later in the half.
Owens, midfielders Shelby Cohen and Bethany Massey and goalkeeper Brianna Leary all made important defensive plays in the first half to keep the Valkyries off the board.
The Lady Colonels drew a corner with 15 minutes left in the half, but all they managed was a shot by defender Kelsey Daley from 30 yards out that sailed high. Another time midfielder Haley Kemper played a ball into the box just barely too far in front of forward Lindsey Salvadelena. The pass was collected harmlessly by the SHA keeper.
OC’s best first half chance might’ve come with about eight minutes to play when the Valkyries defense allowed Cohen to sprint untouched for about 30 yards down the middle of the field. But as she was getting in shooting position, an SHA defender knocked the ball away, clearing the danger.
Even though the Lady Colonels came up empty on their chances, Schulz went into the second half confident OC was getting the better of the play, he said.
“They put us on our heels early and we fought back at the end of the first half,” Schulz said. “We made some good advances and got a good string of attack going. Second half it looked like we were coming out with that same attack and two or three minutes in they just completely flipped the field.”
After coming close on some early second half chances, the Valkyries finally broke through 14 minutes into the half. Lauryn Westman, who’d collected 16 assists this season, played a nice pass to Caroline Wistrom, who hit a ground ball shot past Leary and into the net for the go-ahead goal.
Wistrom’s score was the first OC had allowed since a 3-1 win vs. Central Hardin on Oct. 10.
SHA wasted no time doubling its advantage. Less than a minute later the Valkyries’ Annie Heironimus blasted a hard, high shot that Leary jumped for but was unable to collect, making the score 2-0.
“We just took a deep breath and the next one was in the back of the net,” Schulz said.
Heironimus’ goal marked the first time since a 5-2 win over Simon Kenton Sept. 28 that the Lady Colonels allowed two goals in a game.
“I’m not going to say it’s luck, but that was a really good shot – probably wouldn’t happen again if we were back out there,” Owens said. “But yeah, I think we maybe let down after the first goal.”
OC threw attackers forward in the final minutes but was unable to collect a goal “They don’t lose the ball very often and when they do, they recover it,” Owens said of the Valkyries. “It’s just hard to generate chances on teams like that.”
Added Cohen: “Their movement off the ball is crazy. There’s always some girl making a run and another girl trailing in behind her to make sure she picks up the ball in case something goes wrong.”
The Valkyries put their third goal on the board on a Westman shot with four minutes left, making the final margin 3-0.
Thursday was the first time the Lady Colonels had been shut out this season and marked just the third time they’d been held under two goals.
“That tells you how they stymied our attack and how we limited ourselves with mistakes,” Schulz said.
The loss ended the high school careers of several OC seniors, including Cohen, Kemper and Owens, who will go on to play college soccer at Louisville, Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee Tech, respectively. Cohen and junior Allie Houk were both named to the all-tournament team.
During his postgame talk to the team Schulz encouraged the seniors to stay close to the program in future years, something Cohen and Owens both said they’d do.
And when looking at the 2013 Lady Colonel season as a whole, Schulz didn’t hesitate in putting this team on the program’s pedestal.
“I told the girls it’s the best season in our school’s history,” Schulz said. “It might be forever the best season in our school history. Hopefully not, hopefully next year we’re back here to do it again.
“But they’ve got a lot to hang their hat on after this season, and they deserve it.”
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