DANVILLE — Boyle County played magnificent soccer Thursday night.
However, Lexington Catholic played just well enough to slip past the Rebels for a 2-1 girls' sectional championship.
"We play on (artificial) turf, so grass is not really our friend," said Catholic goalkeeper Ciara Thomas, who was caked in mud by game's end. "But we came out here, and we got the job done. But you've got to give those (Boyle) girls credit — they played fantastic and their hearts out."
Catholic advances to the state semifinals, scheduled for 6 and 8 p.m. Thursday at Georgetown College's Toyota Stadium. Finals are set for Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
The Lady Knights (19-4-1) have won 12 matches in a row to put them in familiar territory. This will be Lexington Catholic's eighth appearance in the state tournament. They won the title in 2002 and have been runner-up five times, most recently in 2005. All of the state appearances have come under Coach Terry Quigley.
"Boyle County was a beautiful team. They were just wonderful from beginning to end," Quigley said. "They played so hard and so well. They're well-coached. They've got tons of talent. ... We just hung on, and we did a good job in not giving up that (match-tying) goal.
"I felt like the clock stopped a couple times. ... It was just because of the pressure we were under the whole night, from the first minute."
Boyle (19-4-1) had 10-match winning and 12-match unbeaten streaks snapped. The Rebels had not lost since Sept. 19, 1-0 to Tates Creek. Four days later, the same teams played to a 1-1 draw.
"Boyle County soccer's come a long way since 1998," Coach Brian Deem said. "We played Catholic in '05 and '06 and didn't even give them a game. We definitely earned some respect tonight within the Lexington Catholic community and hopefully, within the state."
All the scoring took place in the first 22 minutes.
Amy Ghibaudy popped in a short-range rebound on the back side in the first 21/2 minutes. Chelsea Smith drew the assist.
About six minutes later, Boyle tied.
Cheyenne Evans, dribbling in on the left wing, crossed the ball to Courtney Hall 6 yards in front of the net. Hall converted, her 21st goal of the season.
What turned out to be the winning goal came with 18:39 left in the half.
Smith, from about 15 yards out, lofted the ball a few yards in front of the net.
Goalkeeper Lucinda Combs and Catholic's Mary Beth Gorham collided, with Gorham getting just enough to nudge the ball into the net.
From there, it was up to Thomas to withstand a steady barrage of shots.
"In the second half, we had better looks than they did," Deem said. "We made a couple of adjustments. ... We had opportunities, and their keeper just made two great saves."
Most notable was Thomas' save on Boyle's final significant chance.
With the clock nearing 3:00, Hall crossed the ball to 40-goal scorer Kennedy Collier near the edge of the goal box.
"I saw my life flash before my eyes," said Thomas, who caught the shot. "You just get behind the ball and do what you can. It was a great header."
Quigley credited his entire team, especially Thomas.
"She was a wall back there, and she made some incredible stops," Quigley said. "The whole team ... played as hard as they could, but they were under pressure."
L exington Catholic 2, Boyle County 1
Goals — LC: Amy Ghibaudy, Mary Beth Gorham; BC: Courtney Hall. Goalkeepers — LC: Ciara Thomas; BC: Lucinda Combs. Records — LC: 19-4-1; BC: 19-4-1.