After falling in the district opener last season, Ashland finds itself back in the region tournament.
The Tomcats defeated Rose Hill 10-0 on Monday night in the opening round of the 63rd District Tournament at the Russell Soccer Complex.
Leading the way for Ashland was Jacob Belville, who scored two goals and assisted on three more. While his individual performance was good, the senior was just happy to help his team return to the region tournament in his final year.
“It feels good to be back and really it’s needed,” Belville said. “We should be here. We were put in a great position and I’m really relieved we get to go play for a title my senior year.”
Rose Hill made a game of it early. The Royals, who haven’t scored a goal all season, played with 11 players on the defensive side of the field for most of the game.
The strategy worked for the first half in which it limited Ashland, which leads the region in goals, to just a 2-0 lead.
“It surprised me,” Ashland junior John Pina said. “I thought we played a decent first half, we just couldn’t connect and we couldn’t finish. And having all 11 players on defense really threw us off. We weren’t used to that.”
Ashland picked up the pace in the second half, and ended the game with seven different players picking up goals.
Along with Belville, senior midfielder McKenzie Malloy and sophomore midfielder Bryce Bentley each scored two goals.
Senior Austin Kelley, junior Brandon Clark, junior Cameron Garner and senior Troy Burchett had a goal apiece.
Matt Cathey added three assists, while Robert Wesley picked up two assists and Tanner Ganote had one helper.
Ashland will play Boyd County in the 63rd District championship game on Wednesday at Russell. Belville admits it could be a pretty good indication of what happens in the region tournament.
“That could foreshadow the whole thing,” Belville said. “If we win districts, we’re in line for a first seed in region and it could be an easier game. I strongly feel that one of these teams could go all the way. Hopefully it’s us.”
Other scores of interest:
-62nd District boys: East Carter 10, Elliott County 0.
-62nd District girls: East Carter 10, Elliott County 0.
-61st District boys: Rowan County 6, Menifee County 0; Fleming County 2, Bath County 1.