MOREHEAD – The Fleming County and Bath County girls’ soccer teams were supposed to meet in a 61st District semifinal match on Tuesday.
But after sitting through a rainy boys’ soccer semifinal, their contest was called off because field conditions at Menifee County were unplayable.
The two teams moved to Rowan County on Wednesday in a make-up match, where Bath County was able to leave halftime with energy, scoring twice in the second half to come away with a 3-2 win.
“Mentally, you get all hyped up and people don’t realize you burn a lot of energy or whatever concentrating on the game, worrying about the game, driving all the way to Menifee, waiting and watching through the boys’ game, warming up and then you have to come all the way back home and redo it all over again the next day. Your whole routine the next day - you’re waking up and like, ‘I’ve got to get pumped up for the game again,’” said Fleming County coach John Adams. “I think, overall, we knew it was going to be a close game. It came to the very end when we played them last time.”
Sadara Copher entered the postseason as Bath County’s leading scorer with 37 goals, and she got involved in the second half.
“It’s always important,” said Bath County coach Karin Lunsford. “We try to work through our center midfield. We have Makayla Parsons working with her. It seems like a real team effort, but we’re always looking to go through. We have a strong middle and things seem to happen when we go through the middle the right way.”
Trailing, 2-1, the junior was able to break free down the left side of the field, where she delivered a cross into the box that found Kristin Riddle, who was able to knock it in to tie the game less than a minute into the second half.
“They came out with a game plan, and we know that she [Copher] always goes left. What I don’t understand is how we let her get on that left side of the field all the way down through there,” said Adams. “Throughout the season, we’ve gotten off to slow starts at the beginning of games. We’ve gotten off to slow starts after halftime. A team like this, you can’t wait to get down and come back.”
Copher gave her team a 3-2 lead in the 63rd minute when she fired a left-footed shot that hit a Fleming County defender and trickled past the dive of Fleming County keeper Cayla McFarland, who was unable to get a clean footing.
“Cayla, she gets those 100 percent. It just rolled and she was coming in slow motion, so I knew she was slipping and sliding in the goal,” said Adams.
The Lady Cats were able to hold off the Lady Panthers from there for the 3-2 win, moving the team to 12-5-0 and earning a rematch with Rowan County in the district final, after falling to them in a shootout in 2016.
“We just have to bring our best. We are a talented team and we have girls that work hard. We’ve been working all year since that final last year,” said Lunsford. “I think we know what it’s going to take, and we just have to be ready and bring our best.”
Bath County got on the board first 18 minutes into the game, when a ball trickled out of the box and Kylen Messer, who was making her return from injury, met it with a shot that knocked off the post and in.
Fleming County tied the match in the 25th minute on a penalty kick that Maggie Hamilton put in the back of the net. The Lady Panthers took the lead off a corner with just under 10 minutes left in the first half. The ball went past Lauren Applegate and to the foot of Bailey Lewis, who was able to lift it over Bath County keeper Madelyne English.
Fleming County finished the regular season with the best overall record in the 16th Region at 13-3-0, and finish the year at 13-4-0. The Lady Panthers had six seniors on their roster – Applegate, Hamilton, Shelby Hardymon, McFarland, Abby Pfeffer and Katie Thomas.
“It’s going to be tough,” said Adams. “We do have a good group of younger girls. Hopefully they’ve learned enough through this year to be able to take over next year.”
The 61st District girls’ soccer championship game is scheduled to be played at Menifee County on Friday. The game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.