DANVILLE — After getting bossed around for most of the second half by a Boyle County squad playing with the fire only a home team could, Lexington Catholic scored late goals on back-to-back possessions to come home with a 3-2 win on Tuesday.
LexCath advances to the quarterfinals, where it will meet Corbin at noon Saturday at Henry Clay.
The Knights came close to seeing its season end in Danville. After LexCath keeper Olivia Williams bobbled a long shot by Boyle's Meghan Paynter, Madelyn LaFaver — the Rebels' leading scorer — came in and finished to put Boyle up 2-1 with 68 minutes left.
The Rebels trailed 1-0 at halftime before Abby Carter, a freshman, evened things a minute into the second half as Boyle forced itself into more scoring chances.
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LaFaver's goal softened the blow of a missed opportunity about 20 minutes prior: she blew past Williams, who was playing high, but sent an empty-net shot just wide left.
"It was very, very nerve-wracking," LexCath sophomore Kennedy Tranter said of playing from behind with only 12 minutes left in regulation.
Tranter said the team "knew it had to keep fighting to get another goal." Senior Alana Hughes said she and Tranter struggled at the top all game long and needed to push hard inside the final eighth of the game.
"I looked at Katie (Hurt) and said, 'We're getting one, we're getting two,'" Hughes said. "'We're going for it.'"
Alana Hughes, fortune teller?
Off a free kick by Katie Hurt from about 30 yards out, Hughes headed in a goal that evened things for the Knights in the 73rd minute.
"Katie's been kicking those balls all the time," Hughes said, "and I just felt it. I was like 'this is the one, I'm hitting it.'"
Just over a minute later, Tranter drove straight into the box and played a perfectly-placed cross from the right side by Abby Van Hoeve to put LexCath up for good.
Van Hoeve said she didn't see Tranter coming but in her mind was drawing from advice Hughes had shared a thousand times: "get the ball down the line and hit a cross in. I did and it paid off."
Tranter knew Van Hoeve was playing down the line but was sure she'd receive a ball or if Van Hoeve would draw a corner.
"I just went in and hoped for the best," Tranter said.
It was Lexington Catholic's seventh win in nine games against Boyle County. The others were ties, including a 0-0 finish on LexCath's senior night this season.
That first go-around helped the Knights identify how the Rebels played and who their fastest girls were, Tranter said.
Hughes was glad the Knights tied the Rebels in the earlier meeting.
"Our mindset was (coming into Tuesday) they play just like us, they're as physical and we need to come out strong," Hughes said.
LexCath survived despite looking sluggish for significant segments of the game. Van Hoeve said the Knights have to continue playing hard for a full 80 minutes as they march forward.
"Our nerves can't take over us once we're back out on the field," Tranter said.
Boyle County Coach Brian Deem was proud of how his players, especially the seniors he's known since they were eighth graders, have elevated the Rebels program.
"They definitely left their stamp on our program and should be well-recognized across the state," Deem said.
Lexington Catholic 3, Boyle County 2
KHSAA state tournament, first round at Boyle Co.
Goals—LC: Tranter 2 (6', 73'), Hughes (74'); BC: Carter (41'), LaFavers (68')
Goalkeepers—LC: Williams. BC: Burns.
Records: Lexington Catholic 22-2-2, Boyle Co. 21-3-2.