BEREA — For a soccer match played with temperatures in the mid-40s, a biting wind and rain, the West Jessamine girls came away with their hearts warmed by the one thing they wanted Wednesday night.
Hana Henderson's goal with 28:10 left gave the Lady Colts a 1-0 win over Lexington Catholic in the 14th Region finals at Madison Southern. The rain, which began falling a night before, caused the match to be moved from the grass soccer field to the nearby artificial-turf football facility.
"Oh, my goodness!" said Kevin Wright, coach of the 15th-ranked Lady Colts. Catholic is "a tough team. We've played them so many times over the last five years and they give you everything they've got. That's what you want. You're not going to get anything easy this late in the season.
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"That's what makes it great, when you work hard and you beat a good team and you earn it. I'm proud of my team. They played 80 minutes. Not the prettiest, but just flat out got it done."
West Jessamine (17-6-2) moves on to host the 16th Region winner in next week's sub-sectional.
The Colts also beat 16th-ranked Catholic 2-1 during a regular-season match that was decided by penalty kicks, and 1-0 in last week's 27th District title match.
"Both teams were playing really hard," said Henderson, a senior. "We both knew there was so much on the line.
"This is the third time we've played them this season, and everyone says it's impossible to beat a team three times. But our team has so much heart and we just put it all out there. We knew that if we stayed with it long enough and if we just put everything on the field and left everything out there that eventually we'd get a break, and we did. It was perfect."
Henderson was the one to capitalize on the break, going one-on-one with a defender inside the penalty box. From 10 yards off the end line and perhaps another 10 yards left of the goal, Henderson popped a hard, low shot to the near post.
Goalkeeper Kate Fitzgerald made a valiant dive, but the wet ball skidded off her gloves and into the net.
That was all that West keeper Rebekah Hulsing needed. Unofficially, the junior finished with 12 saves.
The ball "was so hard to hold on to," Hulsing said. "Especially with the wind going at me."
Catholic (9-10-4) had several prime scoring opportunities.
Hulsing said the one that nearly got away from her came in the first half.
Mary Beth Gorham started a short-play corner kick, got the ball back and let loose a rising screamer of a shot. Hulsing somehow hung on.
"Kevin has done a great job with West Jessamine," Lady Knights Coach Terry Quigley said of his counterpart. "They deserve all the credit.
"Our girls had their chances and they played as well as they've played all season. I'm proud of them."
West Jessamine just missed another goal with less than 17 minutes left.
Maddie Lockridge, from near the 18, put a shot off the right post. The ball ricocheted across the goal, hit the left post and bounced out.
"I'm just proud of them," Wright said of his players. "They executed when we had to execute."
West Jessamine 1, Lexington Catholic 0
Goal — Hana Henderson.
Goalkeepers — LC: Kate Fitzgerald; WJ: Rebekah Hulsing.
Records — LC: 9-10-4; WJ: 17-6-2.