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North Harrison midfielder Kaitlyn Butler tries to dribble around Salem's Alexis Hasick (28) during the first half Thursday. Photo by Brian Smith

Lady Cats drop MSC opener

September 03, 2014 | 11:31 AM

Starting its defense of the program's first Mid-Southern Conference title, the North Harrison girls' soccer team gave up four goals to Salem's Haley Motsinger and fell Thursday to the Lady Lions 5-3.

North Harrison was coming off a non-conference win two days prior, when the Lady Cats defeated New Albany.

When Salem came to Ramsey, the Lady Lions used the foot of Motsinger to put five goals on the board.

"We've had a great start to the season," first-year North Harrison coach Jeff Butler said. "We had a lack of intensity for this game. We've had several tough games in a row and, tonight, Salem brought it to us. New Albany was a little different. Our girls brought a lot of intensity to that one."

Salem did most of its damage on the counterattack. Two minutes into the match, Motsinger took a ball down the right channel, dribbling through traffic toward the goal. Her shot beat North Harrison keeper Kayla Cash.

Many times throughout the game, North Harrison possessed the ball in scoring areas. It wasn't until the eighth minute that the ball crossed the goal line for the Lady Cats. Kaitlyn Butler battled in the penalty area to fend off Salem defenders before passing to her left to an open Cammie Jones. Drilling a shot attempt, Jones sent the ball past keeper KaiLee Dinklocker.

Salem struck again after Jones equalized the match. Motsinger drilled a lengthy shot that tucked just below the crossbar in the 14th minute, giving Salem at 2-1 edge.

"We missed a mark on her a couple times," coach Butler said.

In both halves, due to heat and humidity, players were given a water break at the midway point.

To start the second half, North Harrison had scoring opportunities, but it was Salem that cashed in on its chances.

Motsinger's most impressive goal gave Salem a 3-1 edge in the 46th. Striking a free kick from 15 yards inside the midfield stripe, the ball dipped in the goal. She added another goal with 18 minutes to play. To go up 5-1, Motsinger had a shot saved, but teammate Gwendolyn poked in the rebound.

North Harrison didn't go down without a fight. Cheyenne Byerley had a close well-struck shot saved in the 47th.

With 11 minutes remaining, Butler scored from the right side of the field. She wasn't done scoring. Coming down the same side, Butler netted the ball in the goal, bringing North Harrison closer at 5-3 with 7:44 left.

The Lady Cats had a goal called off in the 76th minute when a foul was called in the box on North Harrison. Salem's keeper was lifted after the whistle due to an injury.

"They have a lot of heart," coach Butler said of his team. "I think Salem's game plan was to try and shut us down in the middle and frustrate Kaitlyn and the other center midfielders. They did a good job of that, but, at the end, we started to get some balls through."

Butler said the coaching transition has been good thus far. The North Harrison soccer complex is also undergoing upgrades. A fence has been added beyond the perimeter of the field, along with lights being installed.

As a team, Butler said he is still mixing combinations on the field.

"We're still moving and changing girls around," he said. "Being a new coach, we are trying some new formations. Today it didn't work so well, but we're figuring out the girls and how they play with the best rhythm. Tonight we fell a little short."

North Harrison will return to play tonight (Wednesday) when the Lady Cats host Floyd Central.

Twitter: @TCD_brian

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