West Jessamine, and Jessamine County before it split up, has trotted out a lot of great girls’ soccer teams in the past 25 years. It finally has a state championship to show for its efforts.
The Colts defeated Lexington Catholic 4-0 in the KHSAA Girls’ Soccer Tournament finals Saturday evening at Bryan Station. It was a championship bout that proved to be the least difficult game of the event for West Jessamine, which was ranked No. 1 entering the week but had to take down five top-10 teams just to play the No. 4 Knights for the title.
To get to the finals it toppled then-No. 2 Notre Dame in a sudden-death shootout on the road, broke a scoreless affair with then-No. 1 Sacred Heart on a late-minute goal, and won another shootout against No. 8 Simon Kenton in the semifinals. That was all after the Colts overcame Boyle County, then ranked third in the state, in a downpour in the 12th Region finals.
KHSAA box score: West Jessamine 4, Lexington Catholic 0
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Not the preferred road to glory, but a rewarding one. It was the school’s second team championship in any girls’ sport; West Jessamine won a girls’ team golf title in 1997.
Anna Rexford, a freshman, was named MVP of the tournament. The Colts only gave up one goal, to Notre Dame, during the tournament and had shutouts in eight of their final 10 games this season. They finished with 16 in total, tied seven other schools for fifth-most all-time.
Rexford ended with only three saves in 74 minutes before junior Taylor Perdue came in to relieve her, but Lexington Catholic only got off seven shots on Saturday.
“She’s the real deal,” Colts Coach Kevin Wright said of Rexford. “She deserved it. She was huge for us game after game. You’ve got a freshman that’s coming out of middle school last year and plays like that? Oh my gosh, what’s her future gonna be like?”
Anna Lee and Eva Mitchell, two seniors committed to the University of Kentucky, were named to the All-Tournament team along with Rexford. Lee assisted on two goals — a lid-lifter in the 30th minute by Maryah Jones and a one-toucher to Mitchell in the 63rd minute to put the Colts up 3-0. Lee scored West Jessamine’s second goal from 15 yards out after splitting a couple of defenders.
While the Colts defeated Lexington Catholic 3-0 in the regular season, Lee said they recognized that the magnitude of the moment would bring out the best in the Knights. LexCath was playing in its second straight championship and eighth overall. It fell to 1-7 in those appearances.
“We knew they were gonna come out fighting, for sure,” Lee said. “We just took care of business today. That’s the best way to put it. We came out ready to go, took care of our business and we’re state champs.”
Those are words that bring a great deal of relief to a program that’s long been a contender but had never reached the finals. Now it’s 1-for-1 in the game that matters most.
“I can breathe now and sleep at night and not be nervous all the time,” Mitchell said with a laugh.
West Jessamine 4, Lexington Catholic 0
G—WJ: Jones (30’), Lee (34’), Mitchell (63’), Pence (71’).
GK—WJ: Rexford, Perdue (75’). LC: Williams, Thompson (73’).
Records: West Jessamine 24-4-1, Lexington Catholic 18-9-2.
MVP—Anna Rexford, West Jessamine
Team—Anna Lee, West Jessamine; Eva Mitchell, West Jessamine; Sarah Jane McCarty, Lexington Catholic; Kennedy Tranter, Lexington Catholic; Austin Wahle, Lexington Catholic; Hannah Allen, Simon Kenton; Abigail Zoeller, Simon Kenton; Ambere Barnett, Owensboro Catholic; Isabelle Stanfield, Owensboro Catholic; Sarah Stodghill, Sacred Heart; Roxanna Saifizadeh, Greenwood; Raegan Crum, Lawrence County; Maddison Moore, Russell.