High School Sports

No. 4 Owensboro Catholic, No. 8 South Oldham advance to state title game in girls' soccer

South Oldham's Stephanie Rowland, right, and Notre Dame's Macey Tranter battled for possession during the first half of No. 8 South Oldham's 1-0 win over the defending state champion.
South Oldham's Stephanie Rowland, right, and Notre Dame's Macey Tranter battled for possession during the first half of No. 8 South Oldham's 1-0 win over the defending state champion. Herald-Leader

Ah, those clever set pieces.

Fourth-ranked Owensboro Catholic scored off a corner kick to stun No. 2 Sacred Heart 1-0 in the rainy semifinals of the girls' State Soccer Tournament at Henry Clay.

Then, No. 8 South Oldham converted on a free kick to knock off defending champion and third-ranked Notre Dame 1-0.

Finals are set for Saturday at 5 p.m.

"We wanted to be very clever moving forward," Owensboro Catholic Coach Durand Engineer said. "We needed opportunities. We knew that we'd get one, two, three, four opportunities and we needed to make the most of them. And one went in.

"They were very technical. They moved the ball well. We wanted to pick them at the right time, and we got a few opportunities off of that. And it was just our day."

Catholic played without starting goalie Lindsey Klump, who was red-carded in the Aces' 1-0 quarterfinals victory over top-ranked West Jessamine.

That left net duties to freshman Ellie Mitchell, who came up huge with six saves.

"After the game started to get going, I felt more confident in myself," Mitchell said. "And I was determined to win this."

Sacred Heart (22-3), last year's state runner-up, had an 11-game winning streak snapped.

The Valkyries dominated the chances in a scoreless first half, outshooting the Lady Aces 6-0.

One of those chances came in the first minute, when Lauryn Westman broke in for a one-on-one.

Mitchell came out and knocked the ball away from Westman, and Catherine Fell's redirection of the carom sailed just right of the far post.

"That definitely was a confidence-booster," Mitchell said.

With about 17 minutes left, Mitchell got caught out of the net. Abigail Zoeller got a shot off for the Valkyries, but Madeline Reid backed up the goalie to block the shot just shy of the goal line.

Catholic (27-1), which has outscored opponents 127-17 this season, didn't get its first shot until 24½ minutes remained.

The goal came with 6:15 left to play. In the moments after, Caroline Hayden thought she had scored.

A post-game video review, though, showed that Hayden's shot was redirected ever so slightly by teammate Holly Logsdon.

"I can't express how good the feeling was," Hayden said. "Our team has worked so hard all year for this."

In the nightcap, Stephanie Rowland hit a 35-yard bomb of a free kick with 5:48 left in the first half.

"It went in, so that's where I wanted it to go," said Rowland, who found the top far corner of the net. "We've been practicing those since the beginning of the summer, so I've made a few."

The Lady Dragons (22-4) have won eight in a row.

"Hang on for dear life," Coach Cy Tucker said after his team did hold on. "... We didn't want their forwards turning and having time because we heard that they could strike a ball on goal from 25 yards on in. I think it's more them increasing the offensive pressure because it was not our intent to be on defense as much as we were."

That's because Notre Dame (20-5-1) turned up the pressure in the second half, but the Pandas couldn't convert. Rowland dropped back on defense for about the last 10 minutes.

"The whole second half was just at our throats. We didn't keep the ball like we really should have," Rowland said. "So it was scary. And then when they put me back there, I just wanted to get the ball up and out."


Goal — OC: Holly Logsdon. Goalkeepers — OC: Ellie Mitchell; SH: Sarah Stodghill. Records — Owensboro Catholic 27-1; Sacred Heart 22-3.


Goal — SO: Stephanie Rowland. Goalkeepers — ND: Courtney Hansel; SO: Whitney Love. Records — Notre Dame 20-5-1; South Oldham 22-4.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader