By Grant Stevens - Sports Editor
Oct. 24, 2012 — After last Wednesday’s shootout victory over Russell at Shuster Field in Morehead, the Lady Raiders geared up for another battle in the regional final.
Straight out of an old western flick, East Carter found itself once again needing a quick and accurate trigger finger, however this time they came up a bit short, falling to Ashland Blazer, 2-1, after a 4-3 defeat in a post-regulation shootout.
“I thought we had a pretty good shot to take the shootout,” said East Carter Head Coach Ben Fritz. “Ashland is a good team, and this was a great game between the region’s two best teams. We just came up a bit short today.”
Ashland Blazer decided to take a gamble by starting an inexperienced Katie Hornbuckle at the keeper position.
The no holds bar approach paid off for much of the game, until East Carter junior Taylor Burnett drove a free kick into and through the hands of the inexperienced Hornbuckle. Burnett’s kick allowed East to grab an early 1-0 lead at the 29th minute.
Grayson’s gals kept up the pressure for the remainder of the half, adding several more shot attempts before the break. East Carter outshot the Lady Cats 9-4 in the first 40 minutes.
In the second, Ashland turned on its defensive engine, led by persistence from Charity Collins, splitting time of possession essentially down the middle.
With East Carter still leading 1-1, things started to get interesting in the final five minutes of the game when Young decided to pull the trigger on a deep shot outside the box, only to see Starr Caldwell make a fingertip save at the 75th minute.
Ashland’s persistence was rewarded when a controversial foul was called inside the box, allowing Charity Collins an easy goal on a penalty kick to send the game into overtime.
“I have to give credit to Ashland,” Fritz said. “Even when we went up 1-0, they kept fighting, and kept scratching, and happened to pick up a foul on us. It’s unfortunate, but that’s something you just have to deal with in the game of soccer.”
Two overtime periods resulted in a stalemate, meaning the Lady Raiders were once again forced to enter a shootout.
Blazer switched Young back to her old forte, in which she gave a solid performance at goalie.
East Carter’s Taylor Burnett missed the first goal wide left, but then Macy Dyer and Amber Hall made the next two for the Lady Raiders. Alexa Sturgill delivered the final shot for East, but saw the kick sail into the hands of Young.
For Ashland, the deal was sealed when Sara Hudson delivered the final blow with deciding kick.
Finishing the season with a 17-2-1 record, Fritz noted how proud he was of his team.
“The ball just didn’t bounce our way today, and it’s a harsh reality that sometimes you just can’t win them all,” Fritz said. “We have really built a strong program here, and hopefully we get back here again next year.”
Grant Stevens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 1-800-247-6142.