A perfectly miserable Halloween night — 43 degrees, 37 with wind chill, light rain — proved to be delightful for the top two girls high school soccer teams in the state Wednesday.
No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 2 Tates Creek advanced through the semifinals of the Girls' State Soccer Tournament at Dunbar High School.
In the opener, defending champion Notre Dame squeaked by Elizabethtown 1-0 on Mandy Arnzen's goal with 3:39 left.
Tates Creek, tied 1-1 at halftime, exploded for a 5-1 rout of Bowling Green.
Tates Creek and Notre Dame will play for the state title Saturday at 5 p.m.
Tates Creek 5, Bowling Green 1: Destinie Graves scored the first and fifth goals as the Commodores advanced to the finals for the first time since 1995.
Ashley Whaley, Elaine Simpson and Shelby Williams also scored for Creek (22-1-4), which has won six in a row.
"(Bowling Green) really had us kind of questioning and searching the first half," Coach Bo Lankster said. "Then we just kind of unlocked them. Our girls did a good job checking back to the ball, keeping possession. We started getting numbers forward, and once we started getting some numbers forward we had a lot more options."
Creek outshot the Purples 10-1.
Creek struck first 30:56 into the match. Mazie Fry chipped a shot on goal from the left wing. Graves, who has committed to the University of Kentucky, headed the ball in. Fry's ball was ticketed for the goal with or without the goal-line header, which was Graves' 34th tally of the season.
"It's all about team chemistry, teamwork, getting the job done," Graves said. "That's what it's all about."
That jolted a Purples squad that had won nine straight matches by shutout — a combined score of 34-0 — and had outscored opponents 95-8 all season.
But Bowling Green bounced back exactly 3½ minutes later. Tori Dillard's shot from near the 18 curled just inside the left post.
Tates Creek scored twice in a span of 2:15 to take control for good.
Whaley was first up, heading in Mallory Eubanks' corner kick at 51:44.
Simpson made it a two-goal lead when she cleaned up a rebound of a Eubanks shot at 53:59.
With Bowling Green in a position of taking more chances in an effort to catch up, Creek continued to press the action.
Williams nudged in a rebound off her own shot with 19:58 left, putting Commodores up 4-1.
"After they scored, we just realized we needed to pump it up to get it going," Williams said. "We just started connecting passes and winning fifty-fifties, and then we just got them in."
Graves added the icing with 5:52 left.
Reaching the state finals is not enough, Williams said. One more task remains.
"We have to win," Williams said. "We made it this far. We beat Scott (County) and (Lexington) Catholic. We have to win."
Notre Dame 1, Elizabethtown 0: The Pandas (25-2-1) had the better chances throughout the game, but were unable to solve goalkeeper Madison Smith until less than four minutes left.
Katherine Koplyay, operating deep inside the penalty box, crossed the ball to Arnzen, who converted on a header.
"I saw the ball coming and I just had to square up, and I just wanted to head it — I headed one before and it went out," said Arnzen, a senior. "I just wanted to make sure ... that I had a good shot."
More than half of Arnzen's goals have come in the post-season.
"I think it's just (because of) experience, definitely," she said. "Because the whole season you train and train for postseason. Then, postseason being postseason, you want to come out really hard."
Olivia Voskuhl was in goal for Notre Dame's 20th shutout of the season (19-0-1).
Notre Dame had nine shots to one for the Panthers (17-6-2).
Tates Creek 5, Bowling Green 1
Goals—BG: Tori Dillard; TC: Destinie Graves; Ashley Whaley, Elaine Simpson. Goalkeepers—BG: Keely Vincent; TC: Arly Lankster. Records—BG: 20-3-1; TC: 22-1-4. All-tournament—Kirby Gooding, Tori Dillard (BG).
Notre Dame 1, Elizabethtown 0
Goal—ND: Mandy Arnzen. Goalkeepers—ND: Olivia Voskuhl; E: Madison Smith. Records—ND: 25-2-1; E: 17-6-2. Att.—787. All-tournament—Emily Richardson, Lexy Haxle (E).
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com