Oct. 30, 2013 —
Ever since a 1-1 stalemate in early September, Russell and East Carter had a strong feeling they would be seeing each other again with the stakes considerably higher.
Meet they did, playing evenly again in the Girls 16th Region Tournament semifinals Tuesday night.
With the match deadlocked 1-1, Russell midfielder Cara Maher dished a pass to Lexie Frisby for the game-winning goal with just over five minutes remaining at Boyd County High School.
The 2-1 victory moved the Lady Devils into Thursday’s 7 p.m. championship game against Ashland, a 2-1 winner over Rowan County in the nightcap.
“We just knew we had to come out hard and play our best,” Maher said. “They had a lot of heart and we had a lot of heart. When it came down to it, we came through.”
Russell is back in the region title game after a three-year absence. Coach Joe Grizzle‘s team had to earn it against an East Carter squad that leads the region with 17 wins and played in the past three region finals.
“I thought we possessed the ball pretty well,” Grizzle said. “East Carter plays rough. We had to match their intensity. In the second half I thought we came out and did that.”
The Lady Devils also received another big effort from their defense, led by Shelby Huddleston, Jennifer Sloan, Kodie Patrick and Alexis McMonigal.
With the score tied 1-1, Russell senior goalkeeper Jalyn Forsyth was momentarily shaken up in the second half after coming out to smother the ball on an East Carter scoring bid. But she stayed on the field and helped the Lady Devils keep East Carter off the scoreboard the rest of the way.
“Our defense has played tough all year,” Grizzle said. “I’m proud of every one of them.
Mahar gave Russell a 1-0 lead late in the first half. She dribbled down the middle, pushed the ball past a defender and then caught up to it and scored.
“Cara’s really been playing well,” Grizzle said. “She can finish and is such a good passer. She has settled into that midfield spot where she’s comfortable.”
East Carter tied it on Amber Hall’s penalty kick with 17:38 left on the scoreboard clock, but failed to connect from the field all night despite a slight advantage in shots on goal.
“We definitely had our chances,” East Carter coach Ryan Knipp said. “It’s a tough one to take.”
The Lady Raiders finished the season at 17-4-1. The allowed only 13 goals coming into the region semifinal.
This group of seniors, like I said before, has the most wins in school history,” Knipp said. “More than that, they raised East Carter to being one of the top programs in the region.”