Story Matters

Story Matters

THE Official HHS Football Site

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Which 36th district girls soccer team faces Notre Dame for the 9th Region crown Saturday?

Allen Ramsey Photo. Newport Central Catholic junior Donnelly Simmins puts pressure on Ryle's Megan Bine in Wednesday's 9th Region semifinal contest. NewCath won 1-0 on penalty kicks.
Allen Ramsey Photo. Highlands freshman defender Sophie Steppe (19) goes up for the ball in Wednesday's 9th Region semifinal game against Notre Dame.
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

Lately, it’s been about avoiding drawing the Notre Dame Pandas in order to be playing on a Saturday for a 9th Region girls soccer crown.

This year marked the first time in the third year of the current format that the 36th District Tournament winner had to face them in the region semifinals. The result proved similar to last year’s title game as Notre Dame beat Highlands by the same 3-0 score. The only difference is Highlands (12-10-1) hung with Notre Dame for a half.

But the Pandas pulled away quickly in the second half. They’ve won eight of the last nine meetings with the Ladybirds dating back to Highlands’ last region title in 2010.

“I think we got a little gassed,” said Brian Wiefering, Highlands Head Coach. “Notre Dame is technically the better team and we know that. Their first touch and first pass is perfect as a group. They’re well-coached. Not taking away from the girls here, but we don’t have 11 that have that. But they have heart. They didn’t quit at the end. I’m proud of them for that.”

On the other side of the bracket, the Newport Central Catholic Lady Breds (15-5-1) downed the host Ryle Lady Raiders, 4-2 in penalty kicks to pull out the 1-0 semifinal win. The Lady Breds will face the Pandas for the championship for the second time in three seasons at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Notre Dame has won 10 straight region tournament contests for three straight region crowns including a 3-1 win over NewCath in 2012. The Pandas have also appeared in three consecutive state championship games capturing the title in 2011 and last year. The Pandas eliminated the Lady Breds in the region semifinals last year.

In the second game, Notre Dame outshot Highlands, 12-3 including 6-2 on goal. Courtney Hansel had one save for the Pandas while Olivia McQueary had two for the Ladybirds.

The Pandas scored two goals in the first six minutes of the second half. Mandy Arnzen had one and Christin Sherrard had the other one.

Notre Dame added an insurance goal with 18:58 left in the game. Hayley Thompson scored it for the Pandas.

Highlands graduates four players from the team that hit double-digits in the win column for the first time since 2010. The Ladybirds rebounded from a 3-8 start with solid team chemistry.

“You’re looking at a senior and freshman hug,” Wiefering said. “I’ve never seen that before since I’ve been a part of the program not to talk bad about anyone in the past. When we were 3-8, you would never have seen that. That’s about when that turned around and they became one.”

Those four seniors are Taylor Vaughn, Lydia Graves, Brooke Dougherty and Peyton Bankemper. Vaughn plans to play at NCAA Division III Wittenberg University in Springfield (Ohio) next year.

“This season was absolutely amazing and our team played better than it has in years,” Vaughn said. “We have a lot of young girls and they are definitely going to step up. I can’t wait to come back and watch them beat everybody.”

In the first game, NewCath looked a lot better on penalty kicks than a week ago. The Lady Breds won the penalty kicks, 4-2 after losing by that same score in the 36th District Tournament title game at Tower Park to Highlands.

“I think it was a matter of regrouping and going right back at it,” said Kevin Turnick, NewCath Head Coach. “It’s like riding a bike. You have to get back on it and we made a couple changes and it paid off. When it came to that pressure situation, they really excelled at that.”

Both teams made one of their first two shots before Loren Zimmerman scored for the Lady Breds. That’s when NewCath goalkeeper Meg Martin blocked a shot giving them a 2-1 advantage with two penalty kicks left.

“It could have gone either way,” Martin said. “I was afraid the one I hit up was going to hit the crossbar and go right back in. You have to make sure you’re there where you’re supposed to be and place it where you want it and hope for the best.”

Taylor Tolle then made her shot to put the Lady Breds up 3-1. Following a Karlene Zembrodt score, NewCath junior Ansley Davenport stepped to the line to end it. She kicked one to the far left. Ryle goalkeeper Emily Hays got her hands on the shot but could not stop it giving NewCath the win.

“I wanted to put it up in the left corner,” Davenport said. “When (Hays) got her hands up, I was a little worried. We wanted to take advantage of it if it came down to penalty kicks.”

Ryle outshot NewCath, 16-9 including 6-5 on goal. Martin made a great number of saves to aid the Lady Bred cause.

“The first time we played Ryle in the regular season (a 3-0 loss), we were without three starters and that really hurt our depth,” Turnick said. “Having everyone back, we focused primarily on (Ryle sophomore midfielder) Hannah Poe. The goal was to not let her get a shot. We had coaches run around like we were Ryle’s forwards and they had to mark us up. I think (sophomore) Ruthie Barth really played lights out. She’s one of the reasons we’re going to the championship because of her defensive ability.”

Ryle suffered an overtime loss to Highlands in last year’s semifinals. The Ladybirds won 2-1 in overtime on a Lauren Daly goal.

The Lady Breds are seeking their first region crown since 2001.

NewCath captures another district title:

The Thoroughbreds (16-12) had little trouble capturing another 36th District championship with a sound 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-17) victory over Highlands at Bellevue. Both teams advance to the 9th Region Tournament at Ryle next week.

Keyaira Lankheit had 13 kills and six blocks. Rachel McDonald added 12 kills on her way to tournament most valuable player honors. Amanda Ruwe added 12 digs and Mikah Freppon had 25 assists. Freppon and Ruwe also made the all-tournament team.

Jessica Ginter and Sydney Kroger made the all-tournament team for Highlands. Ginter had five kills, two blocks and two digs. Kroger had 14 digs and Kaitlin Hall recorded 14 assists.

The drawing for the tournament takes place Saturday.

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