Sacred Heart visited Lexington Catholic as the 19th-best girls' high school soccer team in the country, according to polling by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. It left Lexington with a 3-0 win over the Lady Knights and looking every bit the part of a nationally ranked team.
Ashley Durik, a Valkyries freshman who darted around defenders all night, contributed to two of Heart's goals — sneaking the game's first over the fingertips of LexCath keeper Olivia Williams and setting up a penalty kick for teammate Sarah Buse in the waning moments of the match.
Erin Herbert accounted for the Valkyries' middle goal, a floater from nearly 30 yards out that dropped into the right corner.
Sacred Heart Coach Jacklyn Puntillo called Durik a "very, very dynamic player" who's hard to mark and gets creative with her touches.
"We knew that she was going to be really effective," Puntillo said. "Did I anticipate this effective this early? Probably not."
Sacred Heart won the possession war after the Knights owned the ball for most of the first 10 minutes.
Lady Knights head coach Terry Quigley knew the teams' annual match with Sacred Heart would be a good measuring stick. He said the Valkyries' ball control disrupted LexCath all night and his girls can tighten up their defense of the passing lanes.
"If we can anticipate better, then in the future we'll do better," Quigley said. "I think my girls played hard. Sacred Heart played really well. It was a great first game of the season."
The second half was notably more physical than the first, with Sacred Heart getting one yellow card and LexCath two.
"We picked up a level of intensity for a while and they had to come back with it," he said. "... It's just a product of the level of play going up and up and up and everybody's running at each other."
Kennedy Tranter, a sophomore standout who's headed to the University of Kentucky, had several early shots on goal for LexCath but couldn't draw net. The Valkyries did a good job containing Tranter after she got loose several times in the opening third.
"They did a great job on her," Quigley said. "You can contain Kennedy if the rest of the team is having trouble defending. She wasn't getting the ball in good spots and she had a couple of people on her."
It was an evening characterized by near misses for the Lady Knights, none more aching than Katie Pierce's shot that drew iron and bounced back into play with four minutes to play in the first half.
"That was fun," Quigley said. "We did have our moments. It still didn't add up to a goal so we need to work on it."
Still, Quigley was pleased with the Lady Knights' effort against a top-flight opponent.
"We'll work this out," he said. "I think if we send some through balls over the top and we play better defense we'll be OK."