STANFORD — Whenever a team puts together a significant winning streak, there is often added pressure to further that success each time the team steps on the field.
That pressure wasn’t showing Wednesday night, as the Boyle County girls collected its sixth straight district title by defeating Lincoln County 4-0 in the girls 45th District Tournament final at Lincoln.
The No. 21 Rebels, winners of the 29th District the past five seasons, easily transitioned to the reconfigured 45th, sweeping the competition along the way to the championship game shutout — Boyle’s 12th of the season.
“We’ve been doing a good job the last four, five years of really focusing on team defense,” Boyle coach Brian Deem said. “I challenged our kids tonight. I said, ‘We’ve faced Danville. We’ve faced Mercer. And we’ve faced Lincoln now for the second time. All three of their goal-scorers were previewed early in the preseason as being their studs — can we shut them out?’ Up to tonight we had, and we were able to keep Rachel (Spangler) off the boards tonight. They responded to the challenge tonight, they really did.”
Boyle (13-5-3), which also defeated Lincoln 4-0 in the regular season, never trailed in the postseason rematch, with senior Hannah Harris, who led the Rebels with two goals, tallying her first goal just 9 minutes into the championship game.
Deem credited his Rebels for a strong start, and also the Patriots for not backing down.
“It was a great win, but it wasn’t as easy as the score says. (Lincoln coach) Andrew (Kaiser) had his girls ready to play,” Deem said. “I thought we did a good job in the first 9 minutes when we scored and went up 1-0, but then our play kind of fell off. We got very complacent and expected Lincoln to maybe back down.”
“Hats off to them. They fought through and they came after us. They never quit, and that’s the sign of a good coach and a good group of girls.”
Kaiser also appreciated the Patriots’ effort.
“The score doesn’t say how close of a game it was,” the first-year coach said. “I felt like our girls played hard. We had a couple breakdowns here and there, but for the most part, we played hard and played well. Give all credit to Boyle County. They’re a good team and they really played well.”
Harris scored the opening goal off a corner kick. Chelsea Gill fielded the kick in front of goal, took a shot and missed, and Harris was there to punch the ball back in on Lincoln goalkeeper Jerrica Kidd.
Boyle, after outshooting Lincoln 5-0 in the first 9 minutes, finished with just a 7-5 edge at halftime as Lincoln (13-4-2) battled back offensively. However, the Rebels held tight to their 1-0 lead.
The two offenses traded possessions and several missed shots before Boyle’s Alexis Kerbaugh ended the defensive standoff with a lofting shot into the goal. After three close calls off corner kicks, Kerbaugh was able to convert for Boyle in the 50th minute, booting in a high shot from left of goal into the top right corner.
“We made some adjustments at halftime and were able to get that second goal. Kerbaugh’s goal was a beautiful shot that she had,” Deem said. “That was the momentum swing right there, because at that point it was anybody’s ballgame. At that point, I think it kind of overwhelmed them and took the wind out of their sails.”
Lincoln was unable to wage much of an offensive threat over the remainder of the game.
The Patriots’ best scoring chance of the night came on a Kristen Meece shot from 10 yards out that went just wide left with 22 minutes remaining in the game.
Gill headed in a direct kick for Boyle with 10:38 to play, and Harris finished out the scoring just 3 minutes later.
“It’s a tough loss,” Kaiser said. “They (the Patriots) were excited about being here tonight. They wanted to win. I wanted to win. But we didn’t. Hopefully we’ll see them in the region. Region starts Monday, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Maddie Adams, Lincoln County; Ellery Denny, Boyle County; Mary Ezaizat, Garrard County; Chelsea Gill, Boyle County; Hannah Harris, Boyle County; Jerrica Kidd, Lincoln County; Meghan Paynter, Boyle County; Kendra Rich, Garrard County; Samantha Sandidge, Danville; Fariha Siddiqui, Danville; Rachel Spangler, Lincoln County.