WILLIAMSBURG — When the going got tough, North Laurel got going.
The defending 13th Region champions found themselves on the ropes, trailing Corbin 2-1, with only a minute remaining in regulation during Thursday’s 49th District Girls Soccer Tournament final before they were able to come up with a game-tying goal.
A goal by Tournament Offensive MVP Maddie Dagley with 51 seconds remaining sent the match into two five-minute sudden victory overtimes before seeing the Lady Jaguars wrap up their third straight 49th District crown by outscoring the Lady Redhounds, 4-1, during penalty kicks to pull off a 3-2 victory.
North Laurel keeper Savannah Lawson came up with two stops during the penalty kicks while Meg Anderson, Lily Messer, Dagley, and Olivia Rudder each scored to put the game away.
“It’s a hard way to lose a game, and it’s not a great way to win one,” North Laurel coach Rod Messer said. “I think they (Corbin) got the better play early, but I didn’t think that we were that far off. We just couldn’t finish at times, but they have improved tremendously. I thought it would be a tough game, but I’m not sure I thought it would be quite this tough. I think they’ve gotten our attention now, and I believe there is an excellent chance that we both will be playing against each other in the regional finals.”
Even though her team couldn’t hold on in the end, Corbin coach Hannah Goins said she was proud of her players’ play and effort throughout the match.
“It’s a tough loss for us, but I think we played a really good game,” she said. “I told the girls they can play with anybody and I thought we showed that. Even though it didn’t turn out the way we wanted, I’m proud of my team. The way we played tonight is a huge testament to how far we have come since the start of the season.
“We came out and played our game tonight,” Goins added. “We came out aggressive and played well. We’d been working on that the entire season. We possessed the ball well. I think we have a good shot (in the region). We showed a lot of potential tonight, so we will get back to work and start preparing for next week.”
Corbin (9-11-0) set the tone early by playing aggressive and winning more than its share of 50-50 balls.
The Lady Redhounds’ controlled possession of the ball throughout the opening minutes of the first half before seeing Clara Finneseth connect with a goal to give Corbin a 1-0 lead during the 11th minute.
The Lady Jaguars (14-1-1) were able to answer during the 25th minute behind a goal by Dagley that tied the match at one apiece.
Both teams continued to battle in the second half with North Laurel misfiring on several opportunities from close range.
The Lady Redhounds were able to regain the lead during the 54th minute behind Grace Gibson’s goal to take a 2-1 edge.
The Lady Jaguars continued to attack on offense throughout the final 20 minutes but were finally able to come through when Dagley’s second goal of the match with 51 seconds remaining tied the contest at two apiece.
After both teams failed to score during two five-minute sudden victory overtimes, North Laurel wrapped up the win by outscoring Corbin 4-1 during the penalty kick phase while picking up its 15th consecutive win against regional opponents.
“I’m proud of that,” Messer said of his team’s perseverance. “We weren’t getting the results we were wanting, but we kept working and kept working. I’m proud of how we hung in there and played. This is the most competitive game I believe that we’ve been in. This was a competitive game from start to finish. There was an ebb and flow to it, but I never felt like either team had an upper hand. It didn’t surprise me they made some big plays, but we were able to make some, too. The big one is still out there and we will be working hard for that.”
Members of the 49th District Girls Soccer All-Tournament Team were — Whitley County, Reis Anderson and Madison Patterson; North Laurel, Lily Messer, Meg Anderson, Olivia Rudder and Natailie Hoskins, and Offensive MVP Maddie Dagley; South Laurel, Katie Vance and Shelbi Brock; Corbin, Grace Gibson, Gracie Dotson, Clara Finneseth , and Defensive MVP Kaiden Walden.