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Meade County blanks Lady Cats

Meade County blanks Lady Cats
Meade County blanks Lady Cats
North Harrison sophomore Ava Burden kicks the ball away from Meade County’s Mattie Clanton in the first half of the Lady Cats’ 6-0 loss. Photo by Wade Bell
Wade Bell, Sports Writer

The North Harrison Lady Cats girls’ soccer team was back in business last Wednesday afternoon with a match against visiting Meade County, Ky., after another round of dealing with COVID-19. The match didn’t go so well for the Lady Cats against the Green Wave, who kicked their way to a 6-0 win.

“It was pretty physical and a mental game,” said team captain Ali Saunders, who said there were a lot of distractions in the physical matchup. “They were talking a lot, talking to the refs. The parents were yelling. It was just a mental game for us. I thought we held our composure pretty well, and that’s why we got some of the better calls out of it. They got two yellow cards. A couple of those we could have gotten the same but we kept our composure and didn’t sink down to their level. I’m proud of our team for that.”

Meade County got on the board early, only about four minutes into the first half, when Mattie Clanton ripped a shot in from the right side for the first goal of the game. Midway through the half, Cyia Robertson also used the right side to score. Late in the period, Robertson scored again, this time from the left side of the goal for a 3-0 Green Wave’s lead at the end of the first half.

One thing that wasn’t helping either team was a stiff north wind keeping the long balls hit into the wind up in the air for an extended time. It also pushed high shots downwind, taking them over the goal.

“In the first half, I could tell a difference, especially the long balls,” said Saunders. “The short passes obviously weren’t affected as much but, once they got up in the air, it was affecting it left and right.”

Two weeks before, the Lady Cats had been put out of commission for a short time due to COVID leaving the team shorthanded and not enough players to compete in matches.

“This was actually my third time having COVID,” Saunders said. “The first couple of times I lost taste and smell. Anytime you take 10 days off you’re going to be able to tell a difference. I don’t know if it was COVID that actually affected me or being home and now being able to get out and practice. (Coaches) Holly (Smith) and Laura (Rainbolt) are great with conditioning, but you can’t really do that at home. They’re amazing and keep us in shape, so I think being off for that for 10 days really affected me.”

“(The team) didn’t have to quarantine since it’s an outdoor sport,” she said. “We’ve been conditioning pretty hard. The coaches can tell us what to do, but how hard you push yourself in the process is what you’re going to get out of it. Not everybody on the team has realized that yet. It’s a learning experience, and they’re starting to pick up on it.”

The Green Wave scored only a short time into the second half when Bella Burchick punched in a center shot past North Harrison goal keeper Vicki Moorman for a 4-0 lead. Minutes later, Robertson also used a center shot for her third goal of the game to complete a hat trick. With just over a minute to go, Embry Keenan also scored from the right side for the 6-0 final.

“They’ve always been a really good team in the past, a good program and a great history,” Saunders said of the Green Wave. “We knew that coming into it. We knew what we needed to do to win this game. Obviously, we didn’t completely live up to that expectation but there was improvement. We’re building up every game. Our potential is showing up every game, and it makes me proud, as one of the captains, to be a part of this team and seeing everybody step up to the plate when it’s their time to shine.”

North Harrison finished with 11 shots on goal with only one in the second half. The bright spot was goal keeper Moorman, who had 22 saves to keep the score from going higher.

“Being a goalie is always scary and a tough position,” Moorman said. “I’ve been playing it for years, so I feel confident in myself. I’m confident with my defenders to help shield people and help me not get injured. It’s just a game of trust. I trust them, and they trust me. You just have to have confidence in yourself. I trust the team. We did good.”

Some of those shots at Moorman came at point-blank range.

“When they get a point-blank shot at me, it’s a hard decision because I can run up and go get (the ball) or I can stay back,” said the North Harrison sophomore. “It’s just that split-second decision that can make it difficult. It’s just instinct after playing it for years.”

“She’s playing phenomenal,” Saunders said of Moorman. “She had a lot of big minutes for us last year every single game, and she’s already showing improvements from last year and I’m really proud of her. She comes out here every game and takes a beating. She never stays down. After every fall, she’s right back up and ready for another shot. She’s tough. That’s what I love about her.”

Meade County finished with 29 shots on goal. Green Wave goal keeper Kerstin Nevitt finished the day with 10 saves, nine of those in the first half.

“We let them win a lot of balls out of the area,” said Saunders. “Our free kick-ball placement is another big thing, stepping to the ball and ball placement. We need to have longer possessions to be able to get those great shots that other teams are getting on us. It was a defensive (second) half, that’s for sure. We couldn’t keep it on our side. We couldn’t keep possession very long at all, and that’s what really hurt us.”