BY ZACK KLEMME
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
ASHLAND Boyd County’s winningest girls soccer team in school history could feel it.
A Russell side searching for its dominant form of recent years still clenches it.
The Lady Devils topped the Lady Lions, 3-2, in the 63rd District Tournament finals on Kynidee Allen’s goal with 22.7 seconds remaining in goldengoal double overtime on Wednesday night at Ashland.
So Russell — under .500 after the regular season for the first time since 2008 — fivepeated as district champion and has its sights set on more. “Speaking from a perspective over the whole year, it’s been pretty rough,” Allen said. “I think we walked in this season thinking we were gonna be the team we were the last two years, and that really wasn’t the case. We’ve had to work toward a common goal, which was winning districts, and now hopefully gonna win regionals. It’s what our goal is.”
Allen’s goal helped the Lady Devils reach theirs.
With the specter of winner- take-all penalty kicks looming less than a minute away, Allen got loose in the box and ripped the twine inside the left post.
“I just saw a wide-open goal, and I was like, you know what, there’s 20 seconds left, how about you take that shot?”
Allen recollected. “And before I knew it, that thing was in the back of the net, and I just remember turning around and just tears rolling straight down my face. I was very happy, very happy.’ Allen clutched the Lady Devils’ newly won district title trophy after the game. Boyd County coach Jason Rosen used the Lady Lions’ runnerup hardware as a prop during his postgame oration as well.
“I was just telling (my team), that’s only the second one of those that this school has ever gotten for girls soccer. I said, be very proud of that,” Rosen said. “They’ve worked so hard and come such a long way just to get to that point, let alone be within 22 seconds of beating Russell there in the district championship.”
Boyd County sought its first win in only its second trip to the district final. In so doing, the Lady Lions very nearly surged ahead late in regulation.
Junior goal-hawk Graci Borders got free past the Lady Devils’ defense with the score tied in the 73rd minute, with only Russell goalkeeper Mercedes Maupin between Borders and a Boyd County lead.
Borders’ last touch was just a little too heavy, and Maupin dove on the ball before Borders could catch up and get a shot off.
“She gets going so fast, the field is so wet, and with tired legs, it’s hard to keep that soft touch,” Rosen said. “She made a great run, just couldn’t keep it under control, unfortunately.”
Russell coach John Perry described “elation” when Maupin bailed Russell out of danger.
“I expect her to make those kind of plays,” Perry said of the Lady Devils’ first-year starting keeper, “and when she does, awesome.”
That set Russell up for Allen’s game-winner.
“When she’s right there around the 18-to-20yard line, she’s pretty deadly,” Perry said.
The Lady Devils scored two goals in a threeminute span to take an early lead. Taylor Stamper headed home Georgia Arrington’s cross in the 11th minute, and two minutes later, Arrington sent a laser off the underside of the crossbar and into the net to double that margin.
Boyd County got those back on Libbi Mays’ tally in the 42nd minute and Borders’ goal chasing down a through ball 11 minutes later.
The win was at least the Lady Devils’ 27th straight against Boyd County, dating back to 2001, which is as far back as complete KHSAA online records go. That included 6-1 and 5-1 victories in seeding play this season.
The Lady Lions’ competitive effort by comparison on Wednesday wasn’t unnoticed by Russell.
“Boyd County has really come out this year, especially of late, and really put it on some teams,” Perry said. “We knew it was gonna be a battle coming in.”
The Lady Lions (13-6-2) and Lady Devils (7-9) both advance to next week’s 16th Region Tournament at Russell.
Boyd County hasn’t played in the region tournament since 2001, but Rosen expects no letdown.
“The great thing about it is, a lot of them are real hard-headed,” he said with a grin of his team.
“They’re great girls. They will bounce back. We will use this as fuel.
“It hurts, obviously, a lot, but this gives us so much confidence knowing, hey, we can beat these guys, and we can beat anybody if we put our minds to it.”
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