Find a way. Those words have hung in Lexington Catholic's locker room all season.
The Knights found a way to the 43rd District finals and an 11th Region tournament berth with a 2-1 win over Tates Creek on Tuesday night.
It wasn't without a bit of frustration, though.
LexCath attacked for much of the first half. The Knights had a 16-2 advantage in shots, several on goal that Creek keeper Bailey McNees strongly reeled in. LexCath created plenty of opportunities but no points.
"We needed to get up before halftime to get their momentum down and our momentum up," Hughes said. "If you don't score you just gotta keep pushing. Any shot we'll take."
Hughes pushed hard in the closing moments of the first half. McNees stopped a strike from inside the box in the 37th minute. Hughes came back in the 38th and sailed one over McNees from about 12 yards out.
"If they score one goal, our 16 shots don't matter if they don't go in," Hughes said.
LexCath's frustration was due in part to familiarity; the Knights defeated Tates Creek 1-0 on the same field two Saturdays ago as part of the Commodores' annual showcase.
Kennedy Tranter gave the Knights a bit more breathing room with a 20-yard drive that ended with a shot inside the box in the 47th minute.
The Commodores got on the board on a free kick taken by Mallory Shake with a minute left. It was too little too late for Creek.
"Our girls never gave the fight up and certainly made it interesting that last couple of minutes," Tates Creek Coach Bo Lankster said. "It would have been nice to have gotten that goal with about seven or 10 to go. Then I think it could have been really crazy. But certainly hats off to Catholic."
LexCath on Thursday will vie for its second straight 43rd District title and its third in four seasons. It locked up an 11th Region tournament berth by virtue of reaching the district finals.
"It feels good being a senior and not having this one game be our last," said Claire Wilhite, a key defensive presence all night for LexCath.
Dunbar advances, too
It's been an up-and-down year for Paul Laurence Dunbar, but the reigning 11th Region champs can't yet be counted out.
Dunbar reached the 43rd District finals for the third straight season with its 2-0 win over Lexington Christian on Tuesday.
There they'll meet Lexington Catholic, which beat them 1-0 in the finals last season. The Bulldogs went on to win shutouts over Madison Central, Woodford County and Henry Clay to claim the 11th Region crown.
Audrey Rawls was responsible for both Dunbar goals, connecting on a free kick above the box in the first half and on a laser from outside the box with 14 minutes left in the game.
The free kick helped settle down the Bulldogs.
"We came into this game really nervous, especially that first 10 minutes," Rawls said.
Dunbar was held without a shot until the 17th minute. LCA had six in the first 20 minutes.
The Eagles won the possession battle on the night but just couldn't capitalize. A flurry of shots inside the box following a corner kick in the 34th minute summed up LCA's night; each crashed into the body of a Dunbar defender.
Bulldogs Coach Tom Morgan credited LCA for forcing his team into playing long balls and disrupting its passes. He said the game mirrored the regular-season contest between the two, which Dunbar won 3-0 despite losing the possession war.
"They literally out-possesed us the whole game," said Morgan of Tuesday's semifinal. "Fortunately for us the goals were going in."
Lexington Catholic 2, Tates Creek 1
43rd District semifinal at Tates Creek
G—LC: Hughes (38'), Tranter (47'). TC: Shake (79', FK).
GK—LC: Williams. LC: McNees.
Records: Lexington Catholic 17-2-2, Tates Creek 12-10.
Paul Dunbar 2, Lexington Christian 0
43rd District semifinal at Tates Creek
G—PD: Rawls 2 (22', FK; 66').
GK—PD: Turcotte. LC: Henry.
Records: Paul Dunbar 12-7-2, Lexington Christian 8-9-2.