While it was the season opener for both teams, Boyd County and Russell had the intensity of a postseason matchup.
Boyd County defeated Russell 4-3 on Tuesday at the Russell Soccer Complex in a game that Boyd County coach William Ferguson called a nail-biter.
He had good reason to, as both teams scored goals in the final two minutes, with Russell missing an equalizer right before the final whistle blew.
“That was intense,” Ferguson said. “If that doesn’t wake us up for the rest of the season, I don’t know what will. That was definitely a good challenge and Russell played really well. They kept us on our toes the entire game.”
Boyd County got off to a hot start thanks to senior forward Jonah Black. Last year’s All-Area Player of the Year started off the season strong by scoring the Lions’ first two goals of the game.
The first goal came two minutes into the game after Black intercepted a pass and put the ball past the keeper. The next goal, Black intercepted a Russell goal kick and delivered another shot to the back of the net.
Ferguson said his team was ready to be aggressive off the opening kick, and Black was the one leading the way.
“We were trying to put pressure on early and get things going right off the bat,” Ferguson said. “Jonah had his mind made up that he was going to go out there and defend the title. He was All-Area Player of the Year last year and he’s not ready to give that up just yet. It was a statement he was ready to make.”
After Black gave Boyd County a quick 2-0 lead, Russell finally got on the board after a Trevor Rigsby penalty kick at around the 22 minute mark.
But Boyd County would get another goal in the under two minute mark on a corner kick that was headed by Garrett Burton and then dropped into the net by the Russell keeper.
When asked what happened on that final goal of the first half, Russell coach Marty Torgrimson said it was just a bad play on his team’s part.
“That was just plain ugly,” Torgrimson said. “We totally flubbed that play. It’s not different than an outfielder in baseball dropping a flyball that fell right into his lap.”
After watching Boyd County control the ball for most of the first half, Russell decided to pick up the pace in the second half.
The Red Devils had 12 shots compared to the Lions’ four and continued to pressure the Boyd County net for most of the second half.
“Russell was more aggressive and we stepped back and played too defensively,” Ferguson said. “We let them have the ball too much. They just moved well with it, but we managed to squeak it out.”
Helping Boyd County squeak it out was the inaccuracy of Russell’s shots. Out of the 12 second half shots the Devils had, only six were close to the net.
“We’ve had that the whole preseason,” Torgrimson said. “We’ve played several scrimmages and the Bluegrass (Games) and we have dominated the games in terms of playtime and control of the ball. Opportunities, like a three-on-one in most cases, we are not putting it in the net like we need to. And that’s hurting us.”
After both teams went scoreless for most of the second half, Russell’s Patrick Soucy finally found the net, nailing a bending shot to the high-left corner of the net.
The final two minutes saw both teams exchange goals, the first came from Boyd County’s Jordan Smith to put the Lions up 4-2. Russell would answer back after Branson Fowler ran in a Red Devils’ corner kick behind a fallen Boyd County goalie.
But thanks to Smith’s goal a few seconds earlier, Fowler’s goal came a little too late.
“It was big,” Ferguson laughed. “It was very big, or we would be in extra time right now. Had he not done that, who knows what would have happened.”
Russell had one last chance for and equalizer late with a free kick by junior Austin Lizarrga. But Lizarrga’s ball sailed to the back fence and the referee’s whistle signaled the end of the game.
Both Russell and Boyd County are expected to compete for the 16th Region this season. Ferguson said picking up an early season district win could only mean good things for Boyd County.
“When the win is in your district, it’s very important,” Ferguson said. “We knew what was at stake when we came out here. You kind of go into things blindly when you play a district game, especially one of the tougher ones right off the bat. We had to put it all on the line and go for it, and we did just that.”
Boyd Co. 0
In her first game with Russell, junior Cara Maher made a pretty big impression.
The Scott County transfer scored four goals and had one assist to lead Russell over Boyd County 10-0 in the nightcap of a doubleheader.
Maher, who has always played defense in her career, was moved to offense by Russell coach Joe Grizzle. He likes what he’s seen so far.
“She just has been a very welcomed addition to our squad,” Grizzle said. “She played with a lot of energy tonight. She seemed like she was not only scoring, but also connecting with nice passes. She had an overall great game.”
Heather Hencye, Lexie Frisby, Morgan Vonderheide, Brooke Fowler, Josey Owens and Anna Lee Miller each had a goal for the Lady Devils.
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2658.