Mercer blanks East 6-0
It’s never easy beating a team three times in a season, but the Mercer County Lady Titans soccer team (11-6-1) accomplished that feat, defeating the East Jessamine Lady Jaguars (6-14) 6-0, in the first round of the 46th District Tournament on Monday, Oct. 7.
Last year, the Lady Titans beat East twice in the regular season, but took a heartbreaking loss in the district tournament.
Fast forward a year later, and the tables have turned. The Lady Titans dominated the game from start to finish, and Head Coach Josh Culver couldn’t ask for a better start to the postseason.
“It took a little longer than I wanted to to get in a rhythm and get set. I felt like in the fist half, we tried to force the issue a little bit, and when you do that, shots don’t fall,” said Culver. “In the second half, I think it flowed just a lot more offensively and we were not looking to have 10 to 12 passes, when four, five or six will do. We talked about that at halftime and we stuck to our style of play just like we have all year. It’s worked great for us. I thought the whole team was involved offensively and defensively.”
Merecr County struck early in the seventh minute, off the foot of sophomore Emma Kiernan, possessing the ball outside of the box, dribbling in and putting it past East goalie Marissa Perez for Mercer County’s first goal of the postseason.
It wasn’t until late in the second half (38’) where another goal was scored. Sophomore Love Mays snuck one past Perez from the top of the box and the Lady Titans took a 2-0 lead into halftime.
Mercer County turned it on in the second half. Sophomore Marlie Charles scored two minutes in (47’), off a cross from Mays. Two minutes later, junior Abby Dean notched her team-leading 14th goal of the season. Dean shot the ball, which was deflected by Perez in the box, but it came right back to Dean, who finished with ease. Dean added her 15th goal of the season, and second of the game, just five minutes later (54’), striking a ball that went off the hands of Perez.
Charles added her second of the game, both off crosses, this time coming from Kiernan.
Culver was pleased with the way his team possessed the ball and found open teammates in the box.
“As a coach, it’s awesome to see. We work on those back angle passes and crosses all the time in practice. To see it carry over from practice and being put in a game, it’s awesome,” said Culver. “It seems like we always struggle to score on a corner, but somehow we find a way on crosses to be able to put the ball in the back of the net. I’m very proud of the hard work and all the time and energy they put into these practices and games.”
Mercer County has been without one of their top midfielders for over a month. Sophomore Maddie Angel made her way back into the lineup just in time for the postseason. Angel is strong at winning balls in the air, dribbling through defenders and finding open teammates via the through ball.
“We’ve had several injuries this year, but Maddie’s (Angel) seemed to take the longest to heal, but when she is out there, you feel a huge difference. She wins a lot of 50-50 balls for us, especially off goal kicks, where you can go right back and attack,” said Culver. “It was nice to see her back out there. She was ready, she had energy and she was excited to play. She absolutely loves the game, and to sit out as long as she has, it’s been killing her. I was glad to be able to see her get some time in.”
Mercer County will face off against No. 1 seeded West Jessamine in the 46th District title game on Wednesday, Oct. 9, at home. Culver’s team knows what to expect from West and knows it will be a tough matchup like always.
“We’ve played them twice. We know the style that they play, we know it’s fast, we know it’s quick and we know it’s off the ball movement,” said Culver. “We’ve got to constantly keep our head on a swivel defensively and it’s got to be a whole team effort. Since our last matchup, they’ve had time to get better, but so have we.”
Goals – Emma Kiernan (7’), Love Mays (38’), Marlie Charles (47’, 65’), Abby Dean (49’, 54’).
Assists: Mays/Kiernan 1 each.
All photos by Arpan Dixit: