This is the first time I can remember having both a boys and girls soccer team advance to the KHSAA Soccer State Tournament’s Elite Eight from the Tri-County.
That’s exactly what we have after seeing Todd White’s South Laurel Lady Cardinals accomplish the feat this past Monday by defeating Letcher Central while Armando Cima’s Corbin Redhounds managed to do the same Tuesday by eliminating Perry Central on Tuesday.
You have to give credit to both White and Cima. Reaching the Elite Eight is a great accomplishment and very hard to do and both had stumbling blocks along the way that made both teams better in the long run.
Even before the season began, White knew his team would be battle-tested because of the difficult schedule he made up for South Laurel.
Things didn’t bode well for the Lady Cardinals early on after losing their first three games by a combined score total of 13-1.
But the tough slate South Laurel played made the Lady Cardinals better.
After dropping a 7-1 decision to Henry Clay on Aug. 18, White’s squad posted an impressive 15-3-1 record the rest of the way, which included mercy rule wins over Whitley County, Middlesboro, Bell County and Letcher Central — which came in the first round of the state tournament.
The Lady Cardinals’ toughest regional opposition during the season was also its toughest district foe, too, but they managed to outscore the Corbin Lady Redhounds 14-1 during their three wins this season.
Yep, South Laurel is clicking on all cylinders at the present time and a lot of the credit can go to sophomore standout Karli Parker, whose six goals against Letcher Central this past Monday now gives her a team-best 38.
White is going to need Parker to step up even more if South Laurel is hoping to get past top-ranked Notre Dame in the Elite Eight.
The Pandas are 23-2-1 on the season and haven’t lost a game to an in-state team. They are also currently riding a 16-game win streak.
Corbin will also face a tough challenge in the elite Eight, too, against top-ranked St. Xavier. The Tigers are 24-0-2 on the season after beating South Oldham during first round action of the Sweet Sixteen.
But it’s not like the Redhounds haven’t faced tough opposition this season. Corbin started the season on fire, by starting with a 6-1-1 record before going through a stretch of 11 games that saw them struggle at times.
During the 11 games, Cima’s squad posted a 5-6 mark, which included losses to Western Hills, Pulaski County, Richmond Model, Lexington Christian, Madison Central and rival North Laurel.
But he’ll also be the first to say those losses made his team better by the time they faced the Jaguars in the 13th Region title game.
Yep, Corbin battled North Laurel through regulation and two overtime periods before winning in a shoot out, 1-0.
The Redhounds are ready for anything St. Xavier throws at them and so are White’s Lady Cardinals. Both teams face tough challenges ahead Saturday, and both have proved when challenged, they can rise to the occasion.