|Allen Ramsey Photo. The Highlands Ladybirds are aiming for their first region title since 2010. They play host to Boone County at 7 p.m. Monday.|
By G. MICHAEL GRAHAM
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter
The Highlands Ladybirds and Newport Central Catholic Lady Breds hit the 9th Region Tournament today.
Highlands (11-9-1) will play host to Boone County at 7 p.m. and NewCath (13-5-1) ventures to St. Henry. That game starts at 7:30 p.m.
District champions play host to the region quarterfinals. Highlands beat NewCath, 1-0 winning 4-2 on penalty kicks.
Highlands has won eight of its last 10 games after a 3-8 start. The Ladybirds reached double-digit wins for the first time since 2010.
They’ve had steady defense in those last 10 games recording seven shutouts and allowing just eight goals. Five of those goals came in a 5-0 loss to Boyle County.
The Highlands defense led by seniors Lydia Graves and Peyton Bankemper have limited opposing shots on goal. Freshman Olivia McQueary and sophomore Shannon Eaton split time at goalkeeper.
But the key for Highlands has been winning balls in the midfield. That’s what players like sophomore Kiersten Clukey have done.
Senior Taylor Vaughn leads Highlands with 13 goals and six assists. Players like Hannah Culyer and Kayla Nehus have also come up with big goals.
Highlands and Boone County (13-10) did not play during the regular season. A scheduling conflict forced a cancellation of their game.
Sophomore Midfielder Peyton Black leads Boone County with 22 goals. Junior forward Skylar Lehmkuhl is second with 11.
Highlands finished 4-2-1 against the region field. The Ladybirds could face defending state champion Notre Dame in the semifinals on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Ryle.
The Ladybirds last captured a region title in 2010 losing in the quarterfinals to eventual state champion St. Henry. The lost 3-0 to Notre Dame in last year’s region title game.
NewCath (13-5-1) ventures to 34th champion St. Henry (8-3-5). The teams tied 1-1 on Sept. 15 in Erlanger. Kirsten Bartlett leads the Lady Crusaders with 12 goals and Sydney Auteri has 11.
The Lady Breds have had steady scoring and defense most of the season. They are led by seniors Loren Zimmerman, MiKayla Seibert, Michaela Ware and Morgan Martini.
NewCath has had balanced scoring all season. Sophomore Taylor Tolle, junior Donnelly Simmins and Jenna Ahlbrand among others have scored key goals.
The Lady Breds opened the season with eight wins. They have eight shutouts on the season. Sophomore Meg Martin plays goalkeeper for NewCath.
The defense has been solid for NewCath all season. The Lady Breds have allowed more than one goal three times this season. Junior Ansley Davenport, sophomores Ruthie Barth and Olivia Schalk have led NewCath there.
If NewCath wins, it will face either Beechwood or Ryle in the semifinals. Gametime would be 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
NewCath lost 6-0 to Notre Dame in the semfinals last year. The Lady Breds also lost 3-1 to Notre Dame in the 2012 region title game. NewCath last won a region championship in 2001.
The championship game is Saturday. Game time is 5 p.m.