By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
Last season’s 5-3 loss to Letcher Central in the finals of the 16th Region Tournament’s championship game left a bitter taste in the mouths of the South Laurel Lady Cardinals.
And now they get a chance at redemption today when they host the Lady Cougars at 7 p.m. during the first round of the Sweet Sixteen.
Just how bad was last season’s loss to the Lady Cougars?
South Laurel (14-6-1) jumped out to a 3-0 lead during the game’s first 12 minutes before seeing Letcher Central reel off five straight goals to end the lady Cardinals’ six-year run of winning the regional championship.
South Laurel coach Todd White said his team is more than ready to play again against the Lady Cougars (12-3-1).
“Right after we beat Corbin in the regional title game last week, one of my seniors said, walking off the field, ‘We know who we play, it’s time for revenge ladies.’
“We know what’s at stake,” he added. “They ended our season last year and they are on our home turf this time. We have a lot to play for. They still have a good team even though they lost their coach and lost some good players.”
Letcher Central will enter the game with three losses — a 3-2 decision to Prestonsburg, a 7-1 loss to Corbin and a 5-3 defeat to Perry Central.
The only team the Lady Cardinals have played that the Lady Cougars have lost to is Corbin and South Laurel beat the Lady Redhounds three times this season by a combined score of 14-1.
“We have played well this season,” White said. “We know they’re going to be ready to play, but I feel like we will be, too.”
White said if his team does manage to jump out on Letcher Central like last season, he doesn’t foresee the same thing happening to his Lady Cardinals this time around.
“I believe we’ve learned from that,” he admitted. “The first 12 minutes we dominated the game and we were scoring with ease and actually led 3-0. I actually thought maybe it was going to be a mercy rule, but Letcher Central fought hard and came back and you have to give them credit.
“I know they’re going to be ready to compete against us,” White added. “But I’ve got three seniors along with their teammates that really want to win this game and beat Letcher Central. We have had a lot of fun this season — we’ve had a tremendous season and I really believe this will be a good match-up for us.”
White said he also wants to see his team make a bit of history today, too.
“If we win, we’ll be the first girls soccer team from Laurel County to make it to the Elite Eight and to be able to crack the Elite Eight is a big goal of ours. This is a very focused group of girls and we’ll be ready,” he said. “I’m tickled to death with how things have went so far for us and I hope it continues and we’ll see what happens.”