In a potential girls 16th Region Tournament preview, East Carter and Russell battled to a 1-1 soccer draw Tuesday night at Bill Ticknor Field.
Each team produced a goal in the first half. While the second half had no scoring, it didn’t lack for physical play and spirited competition.
First-year East Carter head coach Ryan Knipp certainly liked what he saw from his team.
“I’m extremely happy with the way we battled,” Knipp said. “We didn’t back off. It would have been nice to get a win, but I couldn’t be happier with how we played.”
The two teams came in with a combined 13-3 record. East Carter ranks first statewide with a scoring margin of 6.9 goals per game, while Russell is fifth at 5.3 according to the latest KHSAA statistics.
East Carter, led by a group of six seniors, is trying to get back to the region championship game for the fourth consecutive year, including a title in 2011 and two runner-up finishes to Ashland.
“This was a boost of confidence for us after Russell beat Ashland (5-1 on Aug. 27),” Knipp said.
Russell (7-1-1) had the Lady Raiders on their heels early, taking the first seven shots and getting out to a 1-0 lead on junior Cara Maher’s 14th goal of the season.
The Lady Raiders thought they had the tying goal with 10 minutes left in the half. After a stoppage in play, senior midfielder Taylor Burnett approached the ball and laced a shot that sailed over a wall of Russell players and under the crossbar. The goal was disallowed, however.
“The ref said it was an indirect kick,” Knipp said. “We thought it was direct.”
A player is allowed to score directly from a direct free-kick whereas an indirect free-kick must hit another player, from either side, before it enters the goal.
East Carter recovered from the disappointment to even the score with seven minutes to go in the half. Burnett sent a corner kick to the goal’s doorstep and senior Macy Dyer finished it while charging the net.
“Taylor’s corner kick was great,” Knipp said. “Macy did the rest.”
Dyer boosted her goal total to 18 on the season.
The Lady Raiders’ momentum spilled into the second half as they held Russell without a shot for nearly 18 minutes.
Russell had several scoring opportunities down the stretch, but couldn’t convert. Lady Devils coach Joe Grizzle was disappointed overall.
“We can’t just show up and expect to win a match,” Grizzle said. “We were flat as soon as we got off the bus. East Carter played with intensity the entire match. We didn’t, that’s the result.”
Russell opened the season with seven wins before a 2-1 loss Saturday at state-ranked Lexington Christian Academy.
“It was a 1-1 tie until toward the end,” Grizzle said of the previous game. “They won on a penalty kick. Today was a reality check. I hope the girls learn from it.”
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2671.