Girls' soccer: Devils decide to stick around

At halftime, the Henry Clay coaches weren't even sure their players cared that they were playing in the 13th Region semifinals.

"We just came out flat," Coach Mebit Aragaw said. "We told them if they wanted to go home to just let us know."

Freshman Olivia Max gave the Devils just the kick-start they needed to not only upset No. 16 Anderson County 1-0 Monday night but also to guarantee that Henry Clay won't be headed home quite yet.

The Devils will face No. 14 Woodford County in Wednesday's championship game. The Jackets dropped Sayre 5-0 in the second semifinal.

"In the first half it was like we didn't even want to be here and this could have been our last game of the season," said Max, who scored 20 seconds into the second half.

She seized the ball from her defender and raced down the middle of the field with it. She lofted it up and over goalkeeper Rebecca Radcliffe.

"It felt amazing," Max said of her sixth goal of the season. "They were totally underestimating us because they beat us by two last time.

"I just wanted to give it back to them."

In fact, the game pitted the region's top offense (Anderson with 95 goals) against the region's top defense (Henry Clay).

The Devils gave up just 13 goals all season, but four of them had been in a 4-2 loss to the Bearcats.

Injuries, including a top defender and Devils keeper Kayla Price, contributed to the loss.

Henry Clay wanted to make sure it didn't happen again.

"I can't say enough about these defenders," Aragaw said. "They've done it all season, only giving up 13 goals."

Freshman defender Rachel Geil said it was tough keeping Anderson out of the goal, especially when the Bearcats got a free kick just outside of the box with 16 minutes to go.

That shot by Kara Yeaste went just wide of the goal.

"It was just so hectic in there," Geil said. "We were frantically doing whatever we had to do to save the game. It was very nerve-wracking."

Aragaw was just happy to see the unmotivated team of the first half turn in a second-half performance that will keep them playing this week.

"This team doesn't know how to quit," he said. "They just keep fighting and fighting."

Woodford County 5, Sayre 0: The Jackets were outshot 4-2 in the first half, but they made those shots count, scoring on both attempts to grab a big halftime lead that just ballooned from there.

"I definitely think we're peaking at the right time of the year," Coach Dave McIver said. "We lost two starters tonight — I think they'll be back for the next game — and we still played well together."

Three minutes into the contest, Brandi Levi drew out the keeper and slammed it into the opposite side of the goal.

With 6:41 to go, Levi drew out Lauren Albert a second time, but dished it off to fellow senior Stephanie Patterson, who fired it into the back of the goal.

Patterson scored a second goal in the second half, but not before freshman Cara Sheehan scored back-to-back goals to make it 4-0 Woodford County.

The Jackets, who advanced all the way to the state championship game last season, have now won five in a row and 11 of their last 12 games.

Woodford's five goals were the most given up by the Spartans in a game this season. They had allowed only 23 going into Monday's game.

Henry Clay 1, Anderson County 0

Goal—Olivia Max. Goalkeepers—HC: Kayla Price; AC: Rebecca Radcliffe, Emily Mager.

Records: Henry Clay 11-5-2, Anderson Co. 17-4-1.

Woodford County 5, Sayre 0

Goals—Brandi Levi, Stephanie Patterson, Cara Sheehan 2. Goalkeepers—S: Lauren Albert; WC: Lyndsay Vance, Hannah Worrell.

Records: Woodford Co. 15-6, Sayre 13-7-2.