High School Sports

Tates Creek girls win first state soccer title

Tates Creek's Mallory Eubanks, left, hugged Jordan Chlebowy after the Lady Commodores toppled unbeaten Notre Dame to win the girls' state soccer title.
Tates Creek's Mallory Eubanks, left, hugged Jordan Chlebowy after the Lady Commodores toppled unbeaten Notre Dame to win the girls' state soccer title. Herald-Leader

The Tates Creek team that won a Saturday night shootout in the Girls' State Soccer Tournament truly is a family.

The Commodores, tied 1-1 versus defending champion Notre Dame through 80 minutes of regulation and two five-minute overtimes, won 2-1 by outscoring the Pandas 5-4 on penalty kicks at Dunbar High School.

Coached by Bo Lankster, Creek got its final goal from his sophomore daughter, Bailey.

Creek's previous goal came from Aaron Lankster, a junior who is Bailey's sister.

Arly Lankster, a senior who is the eldest of the three sisters, played in goal.

"This is the most amazing experience. I don't think I could ask for anything better," Aaron Lankster said. "... One of our coaches told us at the beginning of post-season — he said, 'Your dad wants this really bad.' With all of us on here, I don't think this could be any better for anyone in our family. This is amazing."

Creek's first title came 30 years after Jim Lankster coached his son, Bo, to a state crown at Lexington Catholic.

"This is so much better than 30 years ago. It's so much better," Bo Lankster said an instant before his players dumped a bucket of ice water over his head.

After a scoreless first half, intermission lasted 2 hours, 7 minutes due to lightning.

"We just sat around getting pumped for the game," said Elaine Simpson, who would get Creek's regulation goal. "We couldn't do anything else except just focus and get excited."

As it has been all along, "finish" was the key word.

"Finish opportunities. Finish the season. Finish everything," Bo Lankster said. "And that's exactly what we did."

Simpson struck with 17:35 left in regulation, crashing the net as Mallory Eubanks crossed from the right wing.

Goalie Olivia Voskuhl got a touch, but couldn't stop the ball from getting through.

"It was awesome. I was just there at the right time," Simpson said. (Eubanks) did all the work and I was just there to finish it. It was definitely a team effort this whole game."

Notre Dame tied with 12:05 left. Alex Lonnemann sent a corner kick into the box, the ball deflecting off a defender into the net.

In the shootout, with Creek up first, Destinie Graves, Katie Workman, Shelby Williams and Aaron Lankster tallied for Creek. But Voskuhl stopped Eubanks in the second of five rounds.

Notre Dame got conversions from Ellie Eckerle, Katy Zembrodt, Maddie Tierney and Lonnemann. A fifth-round goal by Erica Meier would have won it, but her riser was blocked by Arly Lankster.

"Oh, my gosh. I heard everybody over there (in the stands)," she said. "They're screaming my name. I knew every single one of them. They believed in me, they trusted in me, they were cheering for me from the deep bottoms of their heart. I just let it out and gave it all I had."

In sudden death, Voskuhl stopped Jordan Chlebowy, but Notre Dame's Mandy Arnzen shot wide of the net.

In the seventh round, Bailey Lankster shot low in the right corner of the net.

Notre Dame's Anna Eckerle misfired high over the goal.

"It was the most exciting goal ever, and I just did it for the whole team," said Bailey Lankster, choking back tears. "They worked so hard, and I haven't got to play a lot this year, but I know they wanted me to, and I wanted to. So I'm just so proud of everyone and so excited."

The second-ranked Commodores (23-1-4) closed with seven consecutive wins after losing to Lexington Catholic in the 43rd District finals.

Creek had reached the state championship match once before, falling in a shootout to South Oldham in 1995.

No. 1 Notre Dame (25-3-1) had won 17 consecutive matches and was unbeaten — with one tie — in 19 coming into the day.

The Pandas won titles in 2004 and 2011, and have now finished second five times.

As Tates Creek gathered to receive post-match awards, Jim Lankster beamed.

"It's incredible. Words simply can't describe how you feel at a time like this," he said. "You've won championships yourself, your teams have for you, but to stand back as a grandfather and watch your son do it, and with the help of three granddaughters that you love so much, it's just spectacular."

Tates Creek 2, Notre Dame 1 (SO)

GoalsND: own goal; TC: Elaine Simpson.

GoalkeepersND: Olivia Voskuhl; TC: Arly Lankster.

Records—Notre Dame 25-3-1, Tates Creek 23-1-4.

All-tournament—Arly Lankster, Destinie Graves, Mallory Eubanks (Tates Creek); Olivia Voskuhl, Mandy Arnzen, Maddie Tierney (Notre Dame). MVP—Eubanks. National Guard Leadership Award—Jamie Bramlage (Notre Dame). Forcht Uncommon Excellence—Abby Van Bussum (Tates Creek).

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader