September ended on a chilly note, but Henry Clay was anything but cold on Wednesday night.
The Blue Devils, ranked 18th in the latest coaches poll, defeated No. 15 Woodford County 3-0.
It was the first time the Yellow Jackets had been shut out all season. Woodford had allowed just six goals this season entering Wednesday.
It was senior night for Henry Clay, and Grace Whalen took that to heart. She took three shots in the first 10 minutes as Blue Devils Coach Mebit Aragaw implored her to keep shooting.
Those blasts began creating corner kick opportunities for the Blue Devils. Sara Ueland connected with Ruby Kate Gray inside the box on Henry Clay's second corner try to put their team up 1-0.
Whalen muscled her way into net and scored on a corner kick from Gray in the 27th minute, that one starting from the left flag.
"Ruby's got a great leg and since it was on that side and it was swinging in, I just knew I had to follow through," Whalen said of the score. "They had lots of bodies on the line so I just put my body in there too and got it in."
The Blue Devils led 2-0 at the break after holding the Yellow Jackets to just one shot in the first half.
They added a third goal off a nice crossover move by freshman Ashley Chindo, who sidestepped two defenders and got one over Woodford keeper Addie Martin in the second half.
Henry Clay outshot Woodford County 20-7.
Aragaw said his team in the past month has gotten better at creating opportunities. "It's a nice thing to see" heading into the postseason, he said. He gave ample credit to his outside midfielders as a unit for giving Henry Clay so many chances on Wednesday.
"It was the game of soccer that brought us together," Aragaw said of his eight seniors — Emily Cashman, Brett Edwards, Bella Flora, Mesa McNely, Tyler Patton, Katherine Regan, Caroline Totty and Whalen. He's been lucky to have them around and see their development from tryouts years ago to seasoned leaders, he said.
The Yellow Jackets failed to match Henry Clay's intensity out of the gate, Woodford County Coach Brad Turpin said, and that early goal caught his girls off guard.
"It's been a while since we've been down like that," said Turpin, who noted Woodford hadn't played many top-tier opponents lately, and it showed in their effort against Henry Clay.
He said his seniors had taken pride in only giving up six goals entering the night and were "down a little bit" after yielding three in one game.
"We've got a little rebuilding to do before district," Turpin said.
The Blue Devils finished 3-0 in 42nd District play after defeating Sayre last week. They will meet the Spartans again to open the district tournament in a couple of weeks.
Woodford County also went 3-0 in its district. It will meet Frankfort in the 41st District tournament opener.
Henry Clay 3, Woodford County 0
At Henry Clay
G—HC: Gray (10'), Whalen (27'), Chindo (53')
GK—HC: Patton. WC: Martin.
Records: Henry Clay 7-6-2, Woodford Co. 11-3