Through 40 minutes, East Carter displayed more zip as well as a clear advantage in shots on goal. In the second half, both arrows pointed in Boyd County’s direction.
Result? A 2-2 tie between the boys soccer teams Thursday night at Bill Ticknor Field.
Boyd County, last year’s region runner-up, trailed 1-0 at the break after being outshot 10-2. A halftime pep talk from coach William Ferguson apparently got the Lions’ attention. They scored two goals in the next seven minutes and just missed on several other opportunities down the stretch.
“The second half was much better,” Ferguson said. “The first half, we looked complacent. The first few minutes of the game, we had some possessions and East Carter wasn’t pressuring the ball a lot. Our guys kind of sat back, and that set the tone. We had to wake them up at halftime.”
Boyd County wasted no time going on the offensive as senior forward Jonah Black took possession at midfield and quickly advanced the ball before firing a shot that sailed just over the crossbar. While the ball missed its mark, the play succeeded in jumpstarting the Lions.
“Jordan realized he had to do something. He took the ball right down the field,” Ferguson said. “We came out on fire. Matt (Blakeley), Jordan (Smith) and the other guys picked it up.”
Less than a minute later, Black put in a shot off an assist from junior midfielder Garrett Burton.
Shortly after, East Carter interrupted Boyd County’s momentum by reclaiming the lead on Seth Marsh’s second half of the night. The Raiders had an indirect kick, and Tyler Walker tapped the ball to Marsh, who drilled it into the back of the net.
“Seth’s a really hard worker,” East Carter head coach Billy Kemper said. “He deserves it. He runs and battles out there.”
Boyd County countered with the equalizer in the 47th minute. Freshman Zach McConnell, the smallest player on the field, connected from the left side for his second goal of the season to make it 2-2.
“He comes in off the bench and gives us a lot of effort,” Ferguson said. “(Freshman) Peyton Marcum also. He’s a bulldog. He makes them work for whatever they get.”
Both teams are in transition this season. Boyd County graduated the bulk of its starting lineup, while Kemper is in his first season directing East Carter.
Boyd County is 2-2-1, with both losses coming against northern Kentucky’s Bishop Brossart and Simon Kenton in the Cardinal Cup at Scott County.
“We’re still a work in progress,” Ferguson said. “It will definitely be that way until the final whistle blows this season, whenever that may be. I’m pleased overall. We are not perfect, but we are working on it.”
Neither side could find the net in the final 30 minutes, and some of that had to do with defense. Junior Wyatt Lewis, in his first year as Boyd County’s starting goalkeeper, leaped to tip Evan Huddle’s well-placed perimeter shot over the crossbar.
Meanwhile, Black kept knocking on the door down the stretch but was unable to break the tie.
“This is our first home game and we’re still undefeated, so I’m happy about that,” Kemper said of the 2-0-3 Raiders. All three of the ties were 2-2 scores.
“We lost our focus in the second half today, but overall I have been happy with them,” Kemper said. “I put in a new system and the kids are doing well. If we keep our concentration and focus, we have a chance to beat anybody that I’ve seen around here.”
ROCKY STANLEY can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2671.