SOMERSET -- South Laurel's season opener wasn't a win, but then again, it wasn't a loss either.

The Cardinals built a 1-0 lead in the first half but failed to score in the second half as Southwestern added a goal late in regulation to force a one-all tie between the two teams.

"It was a good match tonight. They're a good team. To open the season and take on a regional champion and play well, is really good," South Laurel coach Joey Marcum said. "We had opportunities tonight to score. We had 12 or 13 shots on goal, and they had 11 or 12. Our goalkeeper made some great stops tonight.

"It was a good match for us," he added. "I don't think we played as well as we can. It was a good matchup. Nobody wants a tie, but you don't want a loss either."

South Laurel took control early in the game when Will McCowan scored on a cross from Clayton Miller.

In the 56th minute of play, Southwestern senior Dylan Stevens nailed a long-range bender that found the right corner of the net for the game's equalizer. Stevens goal was set up by an assist by junior John Noyola.

"I'm really proud of the way my boys played tonight," Marcum said. "We didn't lose our cool. This was a really good test for us. I saw some things we need to get better at."

"South's first score sort of threw us off our game, and that sort of comes with lack of experience and having to face adversity at the varsity level," McBride said. "To our credit, after halftime, my guys responded and played very well in the second half. I don't have any complaints effort-wise with my team. This is the first game, and I will take it for the first game."

The teams were evenly matched on the scoreboard as well as shot attempts. South Laurel outshot Southwestern by a close 13-12.

However, in the final 10 minutes of the match, South Laurel was controlling the goal attempts. South's Quinn Rison, McCowan, Zach Smart, and Clayton Stacy all had solid attempts with two shots outside the frame and two defended by Southwestern senior keeper Caleb Seward.

In the final seconds of the game, the Warriors got the ball in front of the goal off a corner kick but could not finish it off. Southwestern's Mason Mink and Juan Contrares got shot attempts to open the second half, but both attempts sailed high.

Southwestern's Stevens, Carson Albright, and Keegan McDaniel opened the game with shot attempts. Stevens and McDaniel were on frame, while Albright's shot sailed wide. Noyola and Riley Whitis got off shots in the final 12 minutes of the opening half.

After his first score, South Laurel's McCowan got off two more shots within a three-minute span. In the 34th minute, South's Ethan McNew tried to punch in a rebound shot at goal, but it was saved by Southwestern's Seward.

Things don't get any easier for Marcum's squad.

They host Perry County Central Thursday at 7 p.m. before traveling to play Corbin Saturday at 6 p.m.

"We played Boyd County in the Bluegrass State Games a few weeks ago, and then Southwestern tonight and Perry Central Thursday and Corbin Friday," Marcum said. "So that means we will have played the 16th Region champions, the 12th Region champions, the 14th Region champions, and the 13th Region champions. I don't know what crazy guy out that schedule together. But we will learn from these games and we will get better. We like to get tested."

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