MOREHEAD Tyler Walker was nervous Wednesday morning and afternoon.
Wednesday evening, however, East Carter's girls soccer coach – and the rest of the Raiders – were overjoyed. With good reason – they won their second region title by shutting out Fleming County, 3-0, in the 16th Region Tournament final at Rowan County's Paul Ousley Stadium.
“This is all for them,” Walker said. “I say this all the time. They're always, like, 'Are you ready, coach?' I just stand there; they do all the work, so they deserve all the credit. It feels great, obviously.
“I'm super-excited, kind of relieved that the pressure is a little off.”
East Carter's (18-1-2) goals were equally spread around, kind of like an equilateral triangle where all the angles measure 60 degrees: Ellie Thomas in the 26th minute, Emersyn Elliott in the 54th and Avery Hall in the 67th.
Equally important was the Raiders' defense on Fleming County (14-8) senior Haylee Applegate, who came into Wednesday with 50 goals. The trio of Addie Tiller, Savannah Adams and Olivia Seasor harassed Applegate all night.
“We just knew that she can get the ball off her foot really quick,” Tiller said, “so we just tried to stay in front of her, make sure she didn't have an open shot.”
Two plays by Tiller illustrated how well the Raider defense played.
In the 28th minute, Applegate was about to turn the corner right of East Carter's goal when Tiller slide-tackled the ball away. In the 65th minute, the Panthers' Ava Hitch was on a breakaway – which Tiller stopped about 35 yards from goal.
“(Hitch) had a really great breakaway,” Tiller said. “I just knew that I had to get back or she'd score."
Did Fleming County coach Dallas Hicks figure on Applegate being triple-marked?
“Of course,” he said. “Haylee's a great player; she's shown it year in and year out.”
Hicks was nevertheless happy to be trailing by just 1-0 at halftime.
“Injuries caught up to us,” he said. “We just got fatigued. East put it on us; they're a good team.”
The sequence that led to Thomas' goal started with Elliott's through ball. “I took it and shot,” Thomas said.
Thomas set up Hall's goal by beating the Panthers to the end line and firing a right-to-left cross.
“She crossed it perfectly across the (6-yard-line), and all I had to do was run and tap it in the goal,” Hall said.
Next for East Carter: Southwestern or West Jessamine of the 12th Region in the opening round of the state tournament.
Before that there is a promise to be kept. East Carter senior Maci Moore said she would get a tattoo for a region win with teammates deciding what and where -- with certain specific exceptions.
Tiller's choice: “Lady Raiders” on an ankle.
“It's gonna be hilarious,” Hall said. “She's going to regret it, whatever it is.”
Moore said she's a woman of her word.
“They haven't decided yet, but honestly I'm a little bit scared,” Moore said. "Who knows what they'll pick, honestly.”
All-tournament team: Rowan County-Kaycee Moore; West Carter-Holly Brown; Russell-Jenna Adkins and Ryan Blanke; Ashland-Kenleigh Woods and Gracie Madden; Fleming County-Hadlee Hazelrigg, Irenea Hicks and Macy Perkins; East Carter-Avery Hall, Emersyn Elliott and Ellie Thomas.
Most valuable player: Maci Moore, East Carter.