A second time around proved to be more fun than the first for the Lexington Catholic soccer girls Thursday night.
Playing in its Lady Knights Challenge Cup, fifth-ranked Catholic avenged an earlier loss by edging No. 4 Assumption 2-1.
In Thursday's opener, a rematch of last year's State finals, No. 2 Sacred Heart tripped up top-rated Notre Dame 1-0.
Catholic will meet Sacred Heart for the tournament title, Saturday at 7 p.m.
"The first time we played Assumption, they clearly outplayed us," Catholic Coach Terry Quigley said of a 1-0 game played Sept. 2. "Tonight they outplayed us in chunks of the game. But there were times that we controlled it."
Kennedy Tranter had both goals as Catholic raced to a 2-0 halftime lead.
The first, with 22:20 on the clock, was set up by a through ball from Hailey Maier. Tranter converted from near the top of the 18, finding the left side of the net.
Tranter did it again with 4:51 left, assisted again by Maier, this time shooting to the right side.
"We just like to work as a team and play together, and that's how we aim to play the rest of the season," Maier said.
The win "means that we're definitely getting better and stronger," she added. "We're definitely coming together as a team."
Assumption (5-3-2) took seven second-half shots before Catholic (7-3) took one nearly nine minutes into the period.
"We love playing Assumption because they play hard and they don't play dirty," Quigley said. "They stress you so much. This is like a district or region game, where you knew everything was on the line. It had a really good feel and we were real fortunate to get those two goals and then hang on in the second half."
Maddie Spencer nearly scored for Assumption about 90 seconds into the second half, blasting a shot off the post.
Spencer did crack the ice with 22:30 left, breaking free for a one-on-one from about 15 yards out.
The Rockets continued to press, but couldn't get another ball past keeper Olivia Meck, who would finish with five saves.
"I'm really happy," Quigley said. "Where we are from where we started, it's fun to watch the girls improve."
Sacred Heart 1, Notre Dame 0: Abigail Zoeller scored on a free kick with 32:30 left to propel the Valkyries (11-1).
"I saw (the goalie) was cheating to the left side, and the wall was set up," Zoeller said. "I knew I could just hit it right over the wall into the near stick, so I kind of just saw my flight path and took it."
Notre Dame (7-3-1) couldn't get a ball past goalkeeper Sarah Stodghill.
"I thought they played excellent," Coach Jaclyn Puntillo said of her Valkyries. "And that was from top to bottom. I also thought that we executed our game plan beautifully. We had seen them play, knew they played in a 3-5-2, and we were really able to expose them a little bit just because the girls were very well prepared.
"I told the girls coming into this game we didn't have any pressure. This wasn't a game that we had to win. This was a good measuring stick to see where we are in the state. That's why I like coming out and playing in this tournament — it's a good indicator of where we are in our season. But we don't really look at the rankings, We just want to be playing our best soccer in November."
"I thought we played OK," counterpart David Gronotte said. "I think Sacred Heart's an excellent team. They exposed us in certain spots, which is great to have this type of a game this time of year so that now we can prepare for the second half of the year."
Zoeller said the 1-2 rankings mattered little on this night.
"I didn't really look at the rankings," Zoeller said. "To me, since I was here last year as a freshman and playing in the state championship for my first time, I looked at this to see where we stand against the team that we lost to last year. It was a good game."
Sacred Heart 1, Notre Dame 0
Goal — SH: Abigail Zoeller. Goalkeepers — ND: Courtney Hansel; SH: Sarah Stodghill. Records — Notre Dame 7-3-1; Sacred Heart 11-1.
Lexington Catholic 2, Assumption 1
Goals — LC: Kennedy Tranter 2. A: Maddie Spencer. Goalkeepers — A: Ellie Coke; LC: Olivia Meck. Records — Assumption 5-3-2; Lexington Catholic 7-3.