For The Independent
Jacob Day was frustrated, and Robert Wesley hadn't seen the play very much.
The two Ashland Tomcats exorcised whatever bothered them on Tuesday against East Carter. Day's two goals and Wesley's one off a fake meant a 3-2 win in the 16th Region Boys Soccer Tournament semifinals at Fleming County High School.
Ashland (14-8-2) meets Boyd County for the title at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Ashland coach Ken Wheeler talked to Day before the match. “He was a little frustrated,” he said. “I just said (Jacob), it'll come. He’s such a good player and he has so much confidence … He just put the team on his back.”
And Day totally did.
His first goal, a breakaway past East Carter goalkeeper Michael Marsh a little more than 12 minutes into the second half, tied the game at 1-1 (the Raiders' Seth Marsh scored in the 25th minute). The second, in the 68th minute, tied the game at 2-2 after East's Jacob Newell goal in the 56th minute on an Evan Huddle assist.
“Both of those (goals) weren't my goals,” Day said. “They were passed through to me. If I missed, that would've been terrible.”
Wesley's goal off a direct free kick in the 71st minute was the brainchild of Ashland assistant Ed Belville. Ed's son, Jacob Belville, faked a shot, and Wesley scored.
“We've practiced it a few times in practice,” Wesley said. “It doesn't come up that often in the game; it's not that often you get a nice chance like right outside the 18 (yard box) like that.”
Scoring aside, somebody should buy Ashland keeper Kyle Conley a seven-course dinner for what he did seconds before game's end. He stuffed a shot from East's Darren Gifford, who was behind the Tomcat defense about three yards from his net.
“I had to stop (Gifford) somehow,” Conley said. “I came out of my net and ... closed down the angle because he still had the ball on his foot, and then I waited on him to take sort of a long touch, and put my hand in there.”
Ashland beat East Carter (11-3-4) for the first time in three meetings. Raiders coach Franklin Kemper figured last night would be a close game.
“The team that won made the less mistakes,” Kemper said. “We had three mistakes in the back, and they cost us goals.”
Ashland played without two starters for long stretches. Day went down with cramps and a injury after Seth Marsh fouled him the 16th minute, and Daniel Pina suffered an eye injury.
The Tomcats' frustration sometimes showed. In the 50th minute, Wheeler and Austin Kelley received yellow cards, and Mackenzie Mulloy received one about 13 minutes later.
Wheeler didn't want his players to shake hands after the game because he thought there were cheap shots on both sides, and he didn't want to lose anyone Thursday because there may have been some ticked-off Tomcats. Seconds later, he relented.
“I know (Kemper), he's a great guy,” Wheeler said. “These are high school kids (with heated) emotions.”