LLOYD – With the two-time defending champions looming, Rowan County coach Alan Evans wanted his team to focus on the present and not look toward the future.
The Lady Vikings achieved that goal and responded with a stellar performance in the opening round of the 16th Region girls soccer tournament. Rowan County put seven players in the scoring column in an 11-2 win over West Carter on Monday night at Greenup County High School.
The Lady Vikings move on to play Russell in tonight’s second semifinal.
“It was our final tuning before the big game (tonight),” Evans said. “You can’t overlook West Carter, of course. You have to get used to the conditions. The biggest adversity was the time delay after Bath County encountered an accident on Interstate 64. We had a late start. Then get used to how the ball might bounce during the big game (against Russell).”
The Lady Comets pounced first in the sixth minute. Freshman Kassidy Adams poked in the game’s first goal after Rowan County was slow clearing the ball out of the box after a throw-in.
“It was a communication breakdown,” Evans said. “Tomorrow, we can’t play like that. We need to tighten up that communication from this game.”
That seemed to wake up the Lady Vikings offense. The struck for three goals over a three-minute period. Kenady Vice, Audrey Evans and Promise Cross each quickly put the ball in the back of the net to give their team the lead for good.
“We struggled to keep up with those runners in the backfield,” West Carter coach William Logan said. “We tried to get them marked with a quick player, but it still did us no good.”
The Lady Vikings added to their total with a flurry of first-half goals. Riley Peyton connected in the 22nd minute. Cross added another along with Natalie Peyton and Carmen Alderman to give Rowan County a 7-1 halftime lead.
Evans said multiple players in the scoring column has been a recurring theme all year.
“In the district, we had 15 goals by 10 different scorers,” Evans said. “We don’t want to rely on one individual scorer. Promise Cross is our leading scorer and she is always going to be there. If she does have an off night, we want other girls to be comfortable with finishing inside the box and having that composure. We worked on the long shot tonight then crashing that goal.”
Cross supplied two more scores in the second half to complete the hat trick and move her season total to 33 goals. Loren Carlson finished off the Rowan County (13-6-1) offensive explosion with a strike from the top of the box that slipped through the fingers of the keeper. The wet ball was a result of the day’s rain and soggy field conditions.
Jasmyn Rayburn added a late goal for West Carter (8-12-1). The Lady Comets lose five seniors, including Rayburn, but most of the team will return after making their third region tournament appearance in the last four years.