VERSAILLES — Tates Creek won one for the Gipper.
More accurately, second-ranked Tates Creek won one for Abby, 3-1 over No. 9 Lexington Catholic on Saturday in the girls' 11th Region soccer finals at Woodford County.
Defensive ace Abby Van Bussum suffered a torn ACL during Thursday's semifinal win over Woodford County.
So the Commodores, who suffered their only loss of the season 10 nights earlier to Catholic, used Van Bussum as inspiration to deliver payback. She was named MVP of the tourney.
"It is a big loss not having her, but I'm so happy that she got that (award)," said Shelby Williams, who had Tates Creek's second goal. "She totally deserves it."
"Abby is the heart and soul of our team," Coach Bo Lankster said. "She's the hardest worker every day at every practice."
The Commodores (19-1-4) will play host to West Jessamine in sub-sectional play at 7 p.m. Monday.
"I think Tates Creek had the better team for the most part," Lady Knights Coach Terry Quigley said. "What I'm proud of is our girls didn't quit, and I think it was a little closer than the 3-1 score. But Tates Creek, I think, can win state. And I hope they do."
Williams and Mallory Eubanks scored 61 seconds apart to give Tates Creek a 2-0 halftime lead. Destinie Graves added a goal with three seconds left.
Catholic (16-8-2) had pulled to within 2-1 when Josie Metzger headed in Mary Beth Gorham's corner kick with 22:22 left.
Gorham, who will play for Bellarmine next year, is Catholic's counterpart to Graves — its top scoring threat.
While Catholic kept Graves in check for all but the final seconds, Lankster had Ashley Whaley tracking Gorham.
"That was my position — 'Mary Beth,'" Whaley said. "It was really weird. Probably the weirdest game I've ever played, but I did it for my team, and I'm so happy we won. It's amazing.
"She's all over the place. She's such a good worker."
An Elaine Simpson pass from near midfield set up the first goal for Eubanks, who outsprinted a defender to get a one-on-one shot at goalkeeper Sarah Youkilis. Eubanks, just inside the 18 and near the football-turf right hash, fired a winner inside the far post with 5:41 left in the half.
A minute and a second later, Williams nudged in the rebound to make it 2-0.
Quickly in a two-goal hole, Catholic played its best soccer the rest of the way.
It wasn't enough to keep Lankster from his second region title in 16 seasons.
"Those two goals definitely set the tone for us. We were having some success and got a good countering ball, and Mallory made a great play and finished it," Lankster said. "We felt like we were playing pretty good soccer.
"But Lexington Catholic, they're just so dangerous, you never know when they're going to be able to be explosive and combine and score a goal. ... But our girls were just tremendous tonight. I can't say enough about our entire team. We had to battle under adversity with Abby and they found a way to win."
Tates Creek 3, Lexington Catholic 1
Goals—TC: Mallory Eubanks, Shelby Williams, Destinie Graves. LC: Josie Metzger. Goalkeepers—TC: Arly Lankster; LC: Sarah Youkilis.
Records: Tates Creek 19-1-4; Catholic 16-8-2.
All-tournament—Lauren Taylor (Franklin Co.); McKenzie Bicknell (Madison Southern); Taylor Borman (Scott Co.); Kennedy Harden (Madison Central); Claire Bradley, Lauren Duffy (Henry Clay); Stella Adams, Halle Graham (Woodford Co.); Josie Metzger, Mary Beth Gorham, Hannah Prater (Lexington Catholic); Mallory Eubanks, Ashley Whaley, Katie Workman (Tates Creek). MVP—Abby Van Bussum (Tates Creek).