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Walk the halls of Oldham County High School and you won’t see any girls soccer players wearing their “2012 Region 8 champs” shirts.
“I don’t let them wear the t-shirts from last year,” coach Dan Schulz said. “I don’t let them wear the things from last year because that’s over. If we want to go as far as we went last year then we have to go out and earn every bit of it.”
So far, so good.
Oldham started the season 5-0 and has climbed to No. 5 in the state rankings. The Lady Colonels have out-scored opponents 19-3, not counting Wednesday’s match against Western Hills, which was played after the Era’s press deadline.
Highlights include wins over one of last year’s state semifinalists, Elizabethtown, two Louisville schools, Male and Mercy, and a district rival, South Oldham.
“It’s been a fantastic start for us,” said Schulz, who’s coached Oldham since 1989. “You can’t ask for anything better.”
Leading the way for the Lady Colonels are their two veteran midfielders, Shelby Cohen and Haley Kemper. Both were first-team all-state performers one year ago as Oldham advanced to the semi-state round.
That pair, which has played varsity together throughout their high schools careers, leads a unit with a heavy veteran presence.
“If you have a good cop/bad cop, Shelby Cohen’s the good cop, Haley’s our bad cop,” Schulz said. “She goes out and does the mean stuff, the pushing… letting people know what to do. She does all that.
“Shelby sits back and says, ‘It’ll be OK, let’s work a little harder,’ and Shelby leads by example. So they feed well off each other and they have for three years now.”
Several other experienced players, like senior defender Karigan Owens and junior midfielder Allie Houk, also play big roles.
“We’ve played together for almost four years now,” Owens said. “We’re starting to know where each other are going to be and we can read each other way better, so it’s all coming together.”
There’s no better example of those veterans coming through than in the Lady Colonels’ 1-0 win over South Oldham last Wednesday.
Owens, Shannon Rush, Abigail Stewart and the rest of the Oldham defense shut out the Lady Dragons through 80 minutes of regulation, forcing extra time.
Then, with seconds remaining in a five-minute extra time period, the Lady Colonels earned a corner kick. Bethany Massey took the kick and sent the ball into the box, where it landed at Kemper’s left foot.
Kemper, an Eastern Kentucky commit who scored 31 goals last season, calmly put the ball into the net as time expired. The officials declared the goal was scored before the clock hit zero, giving Oldham a 1-0 win and the early lead in the district race.
“(The South win) just shows our perseverance,” Kemper said. “This team never gives up.”
Just as important as the veteran players has been a new starter, sophomore goalkeeper Caitlynn Mason. Mason has replaced Brittany Moshos, who graduated last season after recording 16 clean sheets and earning second-team all-state honors.
Mason has picked up where Moshos left off, tallying shutouts against Campbell County, Mercy and South. Some of Mason’s best work has come in directing the defense, Houk said.
“She talks to the defense a lot,” Houk said of Mason. “She directs us on the field because she can see the whole field and tells us what we need to do.”
Oldham’s five matches played entering Wednesday night were the lowest amount of the three district teams. However the Lady Colonels have a tough road ahead, with matches on the horizon against district foe North Oldham and Assumption, the team that eliminated Oldham last year in the semi-state round.
Staying healthy across the board will be the best way to position the squad to advance past the region round again, Schulz said.
From there, he said it’ll be up to his players to “stay focused on our end result.”
“We know where we got last year,” Schulz said. “We know we want to get beyond that. But we also know we have to earn every bit of that again.”
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