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LOUISVILLE — The first one might have been a bit of luck.
On a scrum in front of the Ballard net, Oldham County senior midfielder Cameron Bryant put his right foot on the ball, which found the back of the net.
Bryant’s second goal was clutch and all him. His penalty kick goal gave the Colonels a 2-1 win on a 3-2 penalty kick advantage in the boys soccer championship at Ballard.
“I was pretty confident,” Bryant said. “The fans were pretty loud over there. I just got really excited, stepped up and hit it and I knew it went in so I just started celebrating.”
The Bruins took the first penalty kick shot, but both sides missed their first two shots. Ballard junior defender Caleb Cabezas got the home team’s third shot to go, before Oldham County senior goalkeeper Evan Gallagher came up with his biggest save of the night, in which he dove to his right to block a shot by senior forward Stephen Hubert.
Gallagher also got help as the first two shots he faced each went off side posts of the goal.
“When those first two hit the post that was a big weight off my shoulders,” Gallagher said. “That’s two that I didn’t really have to anything for and they still missed. The one I saved, you just read it and guess which way he’s going and hope you went the right way.”
Ballard sophomore defender Ben Ahmetagic connected on the Bruins’ fifth shot, but it didn’t matter, with junior forward Jared Kemper and senior defender T.J. Schuyler scoring on the Colonels’ third and fourth shots before Bryant nailed the game-clincher.
“We stuck to our gameplan,” Oldham County coach Brian Durbin said. “It was a defensive gameplan from the get-go. They have so many goal-scorers that if we didn’t defend tonight, we were gonna give up a lot of goals.”
For 78 minutes, the Colonels kept Ballard at bay, using a defensive mindset. Bryant’s goal came with 16:22 left in the first half and stood until Cabezas directed a header into the goal on a play that began from a corner on the right side.
“That really brought us down,” Bryant said. “It’s hard to recover off a goal in the air near the end of the game like that when we thought we had it in the book. But we came back and did it.”
Gallagher redeemed himself after the Bruins’ goal, with a number of big saves, especially in the second extra time period. He came up with two diving saves, the last one with 22 seconds left on a shot by senior forward Jacob Scearce.
“I kinda took it hard on myself,” Gallagher said. “But you look at it and say, you’ve gotta move on because there’s still a game to play, still a game to win.”
Oldham County will have the benefit of hosting its sub-sectional match on Monday, but it will play another tough opponent in the winner of the sixth region championship tomorrow between St. Xavier and Male. The sub-sectional time is yet to be determined.
“Our program’s got a ton of history in the eighth region and before that, we were in the ninth region and the amount of region titles we’ve taken over the past 10 years is phenomenal,” Durbin said. “We play a regional game and it’s us. All season long, people have talked about Ballard. They’re a fantastic team, but when it comes to regional play, it’s our game.”
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