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BUCKNER -- Tournament time is still more than a month away, but Oldham County has already punched its ticket to the Region 8 Tournament.
The Lady Colonels won Monday for their eighth time in eight matches this season, beating North Oldham 5-2 in Buckner.
That win, combined with Oldham’s 1-0 win against South Oldham Sept. 4, clinches a 2-0 record for the Lady Colonels in district matches. Because North, Oldham and South are the only three teams in District 29, whoever wins the regular season title automatically clinches a spot in the district championship game. The No. 2 and No. 3 finishers then stage a one-game playoff for the other district title spot.
Both the district champion and runner-up clinch spots in the ensuing region tournament. Therefore the Lady Colonels earned a region tourney slot with their win Monday.
“Karigan Owens, one of our captains, said at the beginning of the game this has to be our best game because this is pretty much our road to regionals,” Oldham senior Haley Kemper said. “I think that all really stuck in our heads because we’ve been in this position before, and we definitely played good.”
Kemper and fellow senior Shelby Cohen, both all-state performers last year, made the difference Monday.
The Lady Mustangs (1-8) hung tight with the explosive Lady Colonels early, keeping the game scoreless through the first 18 minutes.
Finally Cohen found Kemper, who beat a defender before putting a hard shot past North keeper Emily Morsman, giving Oldham a 1-0 lead.
“North settled in early and took control of the game,” Oldham coach Dan Schulz said. “We stayed patient, we didn’t get rattled and we made the most of our opportunities. Getting that first goal kind of turned the whole tide, momentum-wise.”
Cohen doubled the advantage with eight minutes to play in the first half, putting in a rebound of a corner kick.
Kemper put the game out of reach a minute later, drawing a penalty and then nailing the penalty kick to make it 3-0.
Kemper’s third goal and a Lexy Galanos score made Oldham’s lead 5-0 in the second half. Goals by North’s Marce Tazbaz and Molly McElroy made the final margin 5-2.
Lady Mustang coach Ann Revell thought her team played well in defeat, she said.
“We fought hard,” Revell said. “We’re really young. We’re freshmen and sophomores, for the most part.”
North has road games Thursday against Bullitt East and Saturday against Boone County before hosting South Oldham at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
Oldham heads west this weekend, playing Madisonville-North Hopkins and Hopkinsville Saturday.
The Lady Colonels will do so knowing they’ve already clinched a spot in the region tournament.
“I think it’s nice to have the pressure off of winning districts,” Cohen said. “Now we can really focus on getting ready for regionals.”