Story Matters

Story Matters

THE Official HHS Football Site

Thursday, October 9, 2014

How did the regular season finale go for the Ladybirds?

Allen Ramsey Photo. Highlands celebrated Senior Night for the soccer teams on Thursday. Both teams recorded shutout wins.
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

October means it is time to rev up the motors full-throttle for the postseason.

The Highlands Ladybirds soccer team generally does just that. Highlands recorded three straight wins on its way to a 9th Region runner-up finish to eventual state champion Notre Dame last fall.

The big difference between this year and last year is the Ladybirds enter the postseason at .500 as opposed to being two games below. Highlands (9-9-1) won for the sixth time in eight games with a 1-0 shutout over the Bishop Brossart Lady Mustangs on Thursday at Tower Park. That marked the first win for the Ladybirds over the Lady Mustangs since 2011.

“They’re more organized on defense,” said Brian Wiefering, Highlands Head Coach. “I don’t know where it came from, but they had a habit of stepping in when they needed to play patient defense versus knowing when to run through the ball. I still saw some mishaps, but they did much better.”

That also marked the seventh shutout of the season for Highlands. The Ladybirds also shut out Covington Holy Cross, 5-0 on Tuesday.

Highlands struggled in one-goal games early in the season. The Ladybirds are 4-5-1 in such contests. But they’ve won the last three one-goal games.

This marked Senior Night for four Highlands players. They are Brooke Dougherty, Taylor Vaughn, Lydia Graves and Payton Bankemper.

Highlands scored the game’s lone goal with 11:30 left in the first half when sophomore Kayla Nehus scored. The goal came because Highlands kept the pressure on in the attacking zone and did not let Bishop Brossart clear it. That marked the fifth goal of the year for Nehus.

“I am glad they did get that early goal,” Wiefering said. “For me to then make our team more defensive-minded, it’s hard for me to do. But we’ve given up too many games trying to go for that second one as opposed to packing it in and going for the win. I think they did a great job with the game plan.”

Highlands outshot Bishop Brossart, 10-8 including 6-5 on goal. Players like sophomore Kiersten Clukey helped Highlands consistently controll the middle of the field.

“I think we’ve really figured out how to get the ball from the defensive field to the middle and really opening up to make the that wide run through the middle to distribute it to the outside,” said Megan Reynolds, Highlands junior. “We (midfielders) have to get to the ball before (opponents) do because if it hits the ground, they have a better chance of controlling it.”

The Ladybirds ended up with six free kicks in the game to 11 for the Lady Mustangs. Junior Hailee Hundemer had five saves for Bishop Brossart.

At the other end, freshman Olivia McQueary had three saves in the first half and sophomore Shannon Eaton had two in the second half. McQueary made a huge save on a Bishop Brossart odd rush just 5:31 into the game. She grabbed the ball seconds before the opponent arrived.

Eaton grabbed the ball a number of times when Bishop Brossart dumped it into the 18-foot attacking zone. That took away several shots.

“If you feel like you can actually get a touch on the ball, you come out on it,” Eaton said. “But if there’s no chance and you feel safer staying back, then it’s better to stay back and be smart about it. It’s like playing in the field when you’re going for a ball.”

The Ladybirds came out attacking in their 4-2-3-1 formation. They had a few golden opportunities in the first 10 minutes. Vaughn nearly added to her team-high 11 goals on the season with 36:14 left in the half. But Hundemer deflected the shot to the right of the goal.

The Ladybirds had a good shot about five minutes later. But the shot veered off the post.

The Ladybirds withstood the Lady Mustang attacks in the second half. Bishop Brossart employed a 4-4-2 (defender-midfielder-forward) attack.

The 36th District Tournament starts Monday. The title game will be Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Tower Park.

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