DANVILLE — Just as when the Boyle County and Henry Clay girls' soccer teams played on Aug. 30, the Lady Rebels got an early first-half goal Tuesday from Kennedy Collier to take the lead.
But unlike the August match that ended in a 1-1 tie, the Lady Blue Devils' unrelenting pressure couldn't produce an equalizer Tuesday night, and Boyle County won 1-0 in the sub-sectional playoffs.
Collier's goal, her team-leading 27th of the season, sent the Lady Rebels (17-2-3) through to the sectional playoffs as one of eight teams left in the state tournament. Boyle County, which is 13-0-3 in a 16-game unbeaten streak dating to Aug. 25, plays at West Jessamine on Thursday.
"I really felt it was going to take two goals tonight, and that's what I told the kids after we scored," Boyle County Coach Brian Deem said. "We got a fortunate bounce on a misplayed ball, and that's part of the game. We went up 1-0 but there was a lot of soccer left to be played. We did a good job of doing as best we could from keeping (Henry Clay senior forward) Olivia Max from being dangerous."
Collier's winner came during a flurry in the penalty box just into the game's fifth minute. After Henry Clay goalkeeper Kate Dishion was caught between fast-spinning odd hops, the ball lingered, waiting to be shot or cleared out. Collier obliged and rebounded it in the goal.
The Lady Rebels spent the rest of the match playing on their heels in the midst of Henry Clay's pressure. The Lady Blue Devils' attack produced more chances on goal in both halves and consistently spread out the Boyle County defense, but each chance was turned back differently.
Henry Clay, whose season ended at 13-5-2, had two shots on one sequence in the box midway through the first half: A defender blocked the first, and Henry Clay sophomore Lindsey Elsen sent the uncontested second from 18 yards sailing wide right.
The Lady Blue Devils even had five direct free kicks — four in the second half — and four were on goal. Each was saved easily.
"We did what we wanted to do, and we had our chances," Henry Clay Coach Mebit Aragaw said. "The ball just couldn't go in. It wasn't our night. We had our chances one-on-one with the keeper, we had our chances set up in the right spots. I kept hoping one would finally go in. It never did, though. I'm still so proud of this team. I'm so proud."
In the regular-season match with Henry Clay, Boyle played without two starters — junior forward Kate Carman and senior defender Savannah Austin — who were out with concussions. Having both of those players back solidified Deem's lineup, he said.
Still, Deem's squad was able to put just one goal on the board. Dishion made a handful of key saves to keep her team in the game, including a spectacular pair of diving stops to either side.
But part of it was also the Lady Rebels' survival instincts, Deem said, and they kicked in as soon as Collier's goal found the net. They didn't shut down Henry Clay by any means, but the Lady Rebels did just enough to win, Deem said.
Considering the time of year — and especially considering their last meeting with Henry Clay — that's all he was asking for.
"I think we were able to win some balls we probably shouldn't have, and there really were some balls that we should have finished," Deem said. "But we found a way to survive, so that's what matters. You just have to survive this time of year."
Goal — Kennedy Collier.
Goalkeepers — BC: Lucinda Combs. HC: Kate Dishion.
Records — Boyle County 17-2-3; Henry Clay 13-5-2.