For over a half, Ashland found itself not playing its game. It took almost 60 minutes, but the Tomcats regained control.
Behind senior Jake Day’s two goals, Ashland defeated Boyd County 4-1 at the Boyd County Soccer Complex on Tuesday evening.
As both teams struggled to score in the first half, Ashland had trouble sticking to its game plan of remaining in possession of the ball.
After being outshot 13-10 in the first half by Boyd County, Ashland gained the upper hand by controlling the shot total 13-7 in the second half.
“Our game plan is to possess the ball and work the other team and wear them down,” said Tomcats assistant coach Ed Belville. “We kind of fell into their way of playing. But in the second half we found our own and started moving the ball really well.”
The first goal didn’t come until the 58th minute when senior Jacob Belville took a free kick from outside the box and floated it toward the goal.
Fellow Tomcat senior Robert Wesley got behind the Boyd County defense and headed the ball in to give Ashland a 1-0 lead.
Ed Belville said he thought Jacob was going to try to put the ball in the net himself. The two seniors had other ideas.
“I’ve made a shot like that this season, but recently my shots haven’t been that on,” Jacob Belville said. “I decided to let the team take a chance than do it myself. It was ecstacy (when Wesley scored), it was just great.”
“We had a little bit of eye contact on that,” Wesley said. “We’ve been playing together forever so we know what each other is going to do. He put up a perfect ball and if I didn’t finish that it would have been ridiculous.”
After finally breaking the tie, Ashland (5-4) found the back of the net again in the 68th minute. Day, a senior midfielder, made a spinning move around a Boyd County defender and then hit the ball off the left goal post, deflecting into the net.
Day said he wanted to make sure his team didn’t lose its edge late in the game after holding a 1-0 lead.
“We just needed a spark,” Day said. “I just had to make a move and do my best to put it in the back of the net.”
Day scored again in the 72nd minute, but the goal was shrouded in controversy. The senior found himself in a one-on-one situation with Boyd County keeper Wyatt Lewis.
Day’s shot attempt was deflected by Lewis, but the ball still got behind the keeper. Day continued after the ball but was tackled by Boyd County defender Tyler Ball.
After getting back up, Day proceeded to put it in the net. Originally, officials decided the shot didn’t count and Ball was given a red card.
But with deliberation, referees decided the goal counted and Ball received only a yellow card.
“I thought they were going to take it back when they called that foul,” Day said. “He took me down, but I just got back up and put it in.”
Ed Belville said the goal was the perfect example of what Day brings to a game.
“He’s a big, strong boy,” Belville said. “He plays hard every minute he’s out there on the field. In my eyes, he’s the best player in the region, if not one of the top in the state. He’s got speed and quickness and he’s good with his feet.”
After Ashland got one more goal late in the game, Boyd County (2-3-1) was on the verge of a shutout.
A Jonah Black penalty kick in extra time put the Lions, who had just 10 shots on goal, on the board.
“We’re struggling to find the back of the net,” said Boyd County coach William Ferguson. “(Ashland) won the ball a lot more in the middle and kept possession of it and made some opportunities for themselves. They had some kids who really stepped it up.”
The 63rd District has become cluttered at the top with the Tomcats having a win over Boyd County, Russell owning a win over Ashland and Boyd County claiming a win against Russell.
West Carter 3
The Tomcats started the week off with a huge win at West Carter on Monday.
Four Tomcat players tallied two goals — Day, Hunter Gullett, Bryce Bentley and John Pina each scored twice.
Alex Donalson added a goal as well while Jacob Belville had three assists and Wesley had two assists.
T.J. Brickles had two goals for West Carter while Hunter Adams also scored for the Comets.