By Les Dixon / For the Times-Tribune
The Corbin Redhound and South Laurel Lady Cardinal boys and girls soccer teams will begin their quest of capturing each respective program's first state title beginning this week.
The Redhounds (13-6-3) will be making a long trip to Ashland today, squaring off against the 16th Region champion Tomcats, who will enter the game with a 15-8-2 record, while South Laurel (15-4-1) will also be on the road Tuesday in first round action of the state tournament against 16th Region champion Russell (17-5-1).
Corbin at Ashland
The Redhounds are coming off an Elite Eight appearance from last season, while hoping to go even further this time around.
To do so, they must get past an Ashland Blazer team that looks to peak at the right time. The Tomcats are winners of three straight and five of their last six games after upending Boyd County in the 16th Region title game, 2-1.
Many didn't know what to expect out of Ashland once region tournament play began after seeing the Tomcats lose to Boyd County, 2-1, in the 63rd District championship game.
Ken Wheeler's squad responded in fine fashion, defeating Fleming County, 3-0, to open 16th Region Tournament play while following that with a close 3-2 victory over East Carter. That meant a showdown with Boyd County would take place in the 16th Region title game, and the roles were reversed with the Tomcats pulling out a hard-fought 2-1 win.
Ashland is led by Jacob Day along with Robert Wesley, Austin Kelley, McKenzie Malloy and Jacob Belville.
Corbin entered the 2013 campaign with a bull's eye on their back, and Cima's squad responded in fine fashion. After starting the season with a 2-2-1 mark, the Redhounds put together a five-game win streak and glided through region and district play by going unbeaten at 9-0, and 5-0, respectively.
Corbin had to rally from a 2-0 deficit before beating South Laurel, 3-2, in first round action of the 49th District Tournament and captured the district title with a 6-3 win over North Laurel.
The Redhounds didn't have any trouble with Middlesboro in the first round of the 13th Region Tournament, winning, 7-2, and followed with a 2-1 victory over Oneida Baptist to capture their second straight 13th Region crown.
Corbin is led by seniors Alex Thompson, Andrew Thaler, Walker Phillips, Ethan Pennington, Sam Marcum, Jesse Hyde and Ethan Hyde. Tulio and Lucas Canineu have also played a big role in the Redhounds' success this season.
South Laurel at Russell
Tuesday's match-up with the Lady Devils will mark the eighth time in nine years South Laurel has participated at the state level.
The Lady Cardinals are hoping to reach the Elite Eight for the second straight season, but coach Todd White admitted it won't be easy.
“Any time you play a team on the road it's going to be tough,” he admitted. “We've just got to battle through and settle down early, and hopefully we'll come ready to play.
“Russell has a good squad,” White added. “They also have a high-level play in No. 13 (Cara Maher). The big thing we want to do is continue our dominance and our tradition. We know things are going to run through her, so we're going to have to find a way to keep her from scoring and taking things over.”
Maher leads Russell with 26 goals on the season, but she has help with teammates Lexie Frisby and Heather Hencye following with 13 and 10 goals respectively.
“I feel like this is going to be an even game,” White said. “We're not entering this game as a heavy underdog. We might be one just a little because we're playing on the road, but I really believe this is an equal match-up for both teams.
“This is going to come down to who wants it more,” he added. “We're happy to be able to advance this far and we're hoping we can make it back to the Elite Eight again.”
Even though White's squad will have to prepare to find a way to contain Maher, the Lady Devils must do the same for South Laurel's Karli Parker.
Parker has 54 goals and 10 assists on the season while teammate Kristen White follows with a 17-goal effort.
“They're going to have to find a way to stop us, too,” White said. “We've got to have other players step up, and I believe we have had that this season. I feel like we can win, but if we don't show up ready to play, and not execute, then our chances will be tougher.”
If South Laurel comes out and plays like it has during the past four games, going 4-0 while outscoring its opponents 40-0 during the process, White's squad could be moving on to its second straight Elite Eight appearance.
“We're going up there Monday night, so we can avoid the long bus trip Tuesday,” White said. “The defining factor of the game could come down to who wants it more.”
Corbin soccer coach Armando Cima did not return calls for comments for this story.
By Les Dixon / For the Times-Tribune
- Local Sports
The Williamsburg Yellow Jackets are partying like it's 1987! That was the last time the Jackets won a game in the 13th Region Tournament, and they ended the 27-year drought with a 47-44 win over the heavily-favored Knox Central Panthers on Thursday night.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'Em
When it comes to picking region tournament games, it’s not an easy task to say the least. This is the most parity that I’ve ever seen in the 13th Region Boys and Girls Tournaments.
If Clay County’s play during the first game of the 13th Region Tournament is any indication of things to come, Robert Marcum’s squad could be well on its way of capturing their second straight 13th Region championship.
The Way it is
Since I’m picking Corbin to pull off the upset against Jackson County today, I figured I’d give my top five upsets dating back to 2005-06 when the 13th realigned and welcomed both North and South Laurel high schools to the mix.
Tony Pietrowski’s Corbin Redhounds have been favored during the past two first round 13th Region match-ups, and have been upset both times. Corbin is hoping things might change a bit this time around.
Barbourville will have hands full against Bell County today
Dinky Phipps’ Barbourville Tigers are looking for their first 13th Region Tournament win dating back to 2006’s tournament when they defeated Clay County in the regional semifinals.
Like It or Not
There’s an elephant in the room at this year’s 13th Region Tournament, and really in basketball in general, and I guess I’ll be the first one to point it out (publicly with my name attached to it).
Chris' Daily Region Pick'Em
With the first three days of opening round games in the books, I can honestly say I'm not surprised that I'm 4-2 overall when it comes to my pick'ems record.
You can never count out the Clay County Lady Tigers when it comes to the 13th Region Tournament.
Les Dixon's Daily Region Pick'em
After going just .500 during the girls games, things are going to get even tougher when it comes to picking the 13th Region Boys Tournament games.
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