|G. Michael Graham Photo. Newport Central Catholic's Loren Zimmerman (center) plays the ball while Taylor Tolle (right) moved upfield in the 9th Region title game against Notre Dame. Notre Dame won its 11th straight region game with the 3-0 win.|
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
UNION – Until someone develops the depth they possess, the Notre Dame Pandas may continue to rule the 9th Region in girls soccer and contend for state championships.
The Newport Central Catholic Lady Breds once again found that out Saturday in a 3-0 loss to the Pandas in the 9th Region title game at Ryle. Notre Dame has won 11 straight region games and won the state championship in 2011 and last year.
“With their starting 10 and their 10 off the bench, there really is not a whole lot of difference in talent level,” said Kevin Turnick, NewCath Head Coach. “I think that’s a big difference (Notre Dame) has against a lot of teams. As we come back next year, we have to develop the depth and be able to go 10 deep like they can. That will keep us fresh and keep us at the same level.”
Defense carried the Lady Breds to the championship game. They made it to the title game despite scoring just one goal in the postseason. They scored that one goal in a region quarterfinal win at St. Henry before beating Ryle, 4-2 on penalty kicks. They lost to Highlands in the 36th District title game on penalty kicks.
“You can’t leave any of them open,” Turnick said. “Our defense carried us through this tournament. We marked well. Notre Dame is a good team and we have lot of respect for them.”
NewCath (15-6-1) has lost to Notre Dame in three straight region tournaments. The Lady Breds lost 3-1 to the Pandas in the title game two years ago and 6-0 in the semifinals last year at Dixie Heights. The Lady Breds have not won a region title since 2001.
The Pandas always pick things up in the postseason. They did not allow a goal on in the postseason last year and have allowed just one this year.
Notre Dame outshot NewCath, 20-8 including 11-4 on goal. Lady Bred sophomore goalkeeper Meg Martin again had a great game with seven saves and Notre Dame counterpart Courtney Hansel made four.
NewCath also did a good job not allowing many free kicks. The Lady Breds had two to six for the Pandas.
The Pandas had several chances to score in the first half and NewCath just missed on a header. Notre Dame came through for the only goal it needed with 3:18 left in the half when freshman Allison Robertson put in a rebound from the left side after Martin made a great save.
The Pandas did not extend the lead until 27:43 remained in the second half. Senior striker Mandy Arnzen broke free and put one in the upper left post to put Notre Dame up 2-0.
Notre Dame added an insurance goal with 7:51 left in the game. Junior striker Taylor Watts scored it for the Pandas.
It was also a clean game. Neither team picked up yellow or red cards.
The Lady Breds graduate four players from this year’s team. They are Loren Zimmerman, Michaela Ware and MiKayla Seibert.
“We came out and battled hard just giving it everything we have,” Seibert said. “Although the results are not what we wanted, we played our hearts out and did our best. That’s all you can ask for.”
The seniors finished a combined 56-20-6 in their four years at NewCath. They won a district championship and won the All “A” state championship last year to go along with the two region runner-up finishes.
Martin made the all-tournament team along with sophomore defender Ruthie Barth and junior Ansley Davenport. Senior forward Taylor Vaughn made the all-tournament team for Highlands.