CANNONSBURG Billy Kemper wasn't particularly concerned when Boyd County's girls started the season 0-3, including losses in both district seeding games. Instead, he turned into a philosopher of sorts.
"There's an old saying, if the wind's blowing your way, then set the sails and let it take you as far as it goes," Kemper said. "So these girls have confidence, and that's a big thing right here."
Monday night showed why: the host Lady Lions topped Ashland, 4-0, in the 63rd District Tournament semifinal for their eighth consecutive win since that slow start.
Olivia Parsons and Emma Borders each scored in a seven-minute span in the first half to give Boyd County a 2-0 lead at halftime, and Laney Whitmore finished it off with a pair of second-half tallies.
Each goal was the product of effective service. Whitmore dropped the ball to Parsons in the LadyCats box in the 12th minute, and Parsons finished high into the net just under the crossbar.
Six minutes later, Borders bodied Parsons's corner kick across the goal line.
Whitmore went far-post off Borders's feed in the 55th minute, and she took Isabella Caldwell's pass and split two Ashland defenders to close the scoring less than eight minutes from full time.
Whitmore, who became eligible midseason by transfer from Huntington St. Joseph, seems to have integrated seamlessly into Boyd County's offensive attack, if the perfect timing of the passing Monday was any indication.
"They've fallen in love with each other," Kemper said of the Lady Lions. "And they've figured out, hey, we can do this. We can win, we can dominate like this, and once a team figures out that they're good enough to do that, and they're having fun and enjoying themselves on the field, then everything's possible."
Ashland coach John Cook is convinced.
"Their attack just went from kinda pedestrian like ours is to just, wow," Cook said. "And they put us on our heels quick tonight, and we just never recovered from it. Hats off to Boyd County and to Billy."
Boyd County (8-3) took control in the midfield. Kemper credited Borders and Tori Badgett and that group as "just animals, and they won all those 50-50 balls. And once you win the balls in that midfield like that, you can push up further up top and put pressure on (opponents) and their front, and that's been working out for us really well."
Lady Lions keeper Isabella Opell wasn't tested often, but she preserved a clean sheet less than 12 minutes from full time by putting away Ashland's Milei Baker's long strike bound for the top right corner of the frame.
Ashland keeper Gracie Madden and sweeper Mimi Moore kept the score from being more lopsided. Cook credited Madden's progression as a first-year goalie, as well as LadyCats keeper coach Cory Brown.
"I would sit and see plays and think, 'Oh crap, they're gonna score again,' and then I'd look up and, shew!," Cook made a whooshing sound and swiped his hand through the air for effect, "here comes Mimi just out of nowhere."
The LadyCats end the follow-up act to their 2019 state semifinal trip 6-5-1.
Boyd County advances to meet Russell in Wednesday's district tournament final and will play in the 16th Region Tournament, which begins Saturday in Cannonsburg.
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