Tates Creek girls' soccer coach Bo Lankster had his team do an about-face at halftime of the 11th Region finals Saturday afternoon.
The defending state champion Commodores had just played a fabulous first 40 minutes and led Scott County 4-0. When Lankster gathered his players on the field at halftime, he had them turn their backs to the scoreboard at Bryan Station.
"We wanted to get that 4-0 out of our heads," Lankster said. "We wanted to try to play the second half as intensely and as tough as we did the first half."
Tates Creek, rated No. 2 in the state, didn't have a letdown and went on to beat No. 3 Scott County 6-1.
Mallory Eubanks, a scoring machine for the Commodores, had two goals (giving her 32 this year) and two assists (giving her 20).
JoJo Gullo also had two goals, doubling her season total coming into the finals.
Alex Tussey and Ashley Whaley also found the net as Tates Creek won its third region title in four years.
The Commodores will travel to play 10th Region winner Bishop Brossart in the semi-state Tuesday night.
Tates Creek didn't expect a lopsided region finals. It played Scott County to a 2-2 draw in September.
Before Saturday's rematch, Lankster told his team the best-case scenario would be to get an early goal on Scott County. "I thought that might rattle them because they're not used to playing from behind," he said.
Eubanks carried out that game plan by scoring on a breakaway less than five minutes into the game.
That was just the beginning of an assault by the Commodores. Gullo got a goal off an assist by Eubanks at the 24-minute mark. Tussey scored from 20 yards a few minutes later. And Eubanks assisted on another Gullo goal just before halftime.
Tates Creek senior defender Abby Van Bussum was surprised by the Commodores' domination of Scott County.
"I was so nervous for this game because they always really battle us," she said. "We were just ready to play and put some goals away fast."
Van Bussum, who injured her knee in last year's region semifinals and didn't get to play in the rest of Tates Creek's title march, said her teammates made it a fairly relaxed day for the defense.
"Our forwards and midfielders did it all for us," she said. "Mallory, Jordan (Chlebowy) and Aaron (Lankster) controlled the ball, so we had a pretty easy game back there."
Scott County was without senior Brittany Cline, its leading scorer, who was injured in the region opener against Western Hills.
Lankster saw that as a key to the decisive first half.
"What happened was just us playing an almost perfect first half, and them not quite being ready to play without Brittany," he said.
Scott County, down 5-0, finally scored midway through the second half, but it was way too little way too late as it was eliminated from the playoffs by Tates Creek for the fourth year in a row.
Cards Coach Andrea "Bug" Brown told her team at halftime it had "impeccable timing to play flat and lax.
"I thought we were completely prepared, but we didn't play with any consistency. A lot of our girls fought. We just didn't play our best."
Tates Creek, meanwhile, is two wins away from a return to the state final four.
"We just need to keep our heads on straight and keep working hard," Cheblowy said. "If we have the right mentality, we'll be all right."
Tates Creek 6, Scott County 1
Goals—TC: Mallory Eubanks 2; JoJo Gullo 2; Alex Tussey; Ashley Whaley. SC: Keyli Borman.
Goalkeepers—TC: Katherine Hein; SC: Michelle Washburn, Beth Schilder.
All-11th Region—Mallory Eubanks (MVP), Abby Van Bussum, Aaron Lankster, JoJo Gullo of Tates Creek; Sara Cox, Keyli Borman, Maddie Coleman of Scott County; Lindsay Elsen, Ally Barfield of Henry Clay; Mikaielle Floreal, Reilly Teal of Dunbar; Lexi Richardson of Western Hills; Kate Freel of Madison Southern; Jane Watts of Woodford County; Marissa Stewart of Madison Central.