|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. The Highlands freshmen football team downed Simon Kenton, 16-0 to move to 3-2 on the season.|
But the Highlands Ladybirds soccer team (10-0-1 overall) have taken care of business in two games against some of the top teams in the state from the rugged 7th Region. Highlands put itself in position to win at least a co-championship of the Lexington Catholic Cup with a 2-0 victory over the Louisville DuPont Manual Lady Crimsons (6-3) on Wednesday.
The Highlands administrators and coaches worked with the Lexington Catholic tournament director to play Wednesday no matter what happened Monday because the school hosts open house Thursday. Highlands Director of Athletics Matthew Haskamp even said in a letter to the team, coaches, parents and fans that the administrators communicating with the Lexington Catholic personnel several times to make sure this was the case including two weeks ago. The Ladybirds, ranked third in Kentucky in the Maher Rankings and 14th in the latest USA Today High School Sports/National Soccer Coaches Association of America Super 25 Expert Rankings poll, took down top-ranked and defending state champion Louisville Sacred Heart, 1-0 on Monday.
The winners from Monday and Tuesday in the eight-team tournament that Highlands has played in annually since 2002 earned the right to play in the winner's bracket Thursday. Notre Dame beat DuPont Manual by the same score Monday. But, as Haskamp stated in the letter, Notre Dame did not find out about the arrangement and already made travel provisions to venture to Lexington on Thursday. As a result, Highlands played DuPont Manual and Notre Dame (8-3-1) will take on Sacred Heart (7-2-1) on Thursday.
Notre Dame must beat Sacred Heart to have a chance for at least a co-championship. If the Valkyries win or take the Pandas to a shoot-out, Highlands will face either Simon Kenton or Lexington Tates Creek at 7 p.m. Saturday. But if Notre Dame wins before going to a shoot-out, a tiebreaker will determine who plays in the 7 p.m. or 5 p.m, contest. Goal differential would be the next determining factor for the 7 p.m. game Saturday. Highlands outscored Sacred Heart and DuPont Manual by a combined 3-0. If Notre Dame wins by the same score Thursday, a coin flip determines who plays in whichever Saturday slot.
Highlands beat DuPont Manual despite not playing well. Ladybird Head Coach Brian Wiefering said junior goalkeeper Olivia McQueary came through well. Both teams recorded seven shots and McQueary, who's been mentored by former Highlands goalkeeper great Sydney Hiance, rejected all seven Lady Crimson attempts. Highlands has outscored opponents, 42-1 on the season recording 10 shutouts.
"They did enough to get the win against a good team," Wiefering said. "Olivia had a great game. They had some hard shots on her. She made what a lot of goalies would make tough saves. She made them look routine. This is a game where you needed a good goalie."
Manual has outscored the opposition, 44-8 on the season including three double-digit wins. Fifteen different DuPont players have scored led by seven goals from Madilyn Hord and Isabella Zamborini. Wiefering said the Lady Crimsons played a 4-4-2 (defender-midfielder-forward) formation after playing one up top against Notre Dame.
"We needed a day off," Wiefering said. "Highlands looked really lethargic. I don't know they weren't used to the heat playing a 6 p.m. game when it was pretty darn hot. (Concerning) the movement on offense and defense, this was by far Highlands' most off game. We'll give them the day off (Thursday) and give their minds and bodies a rest so hopefully, they come back sharp."
Highlands scored the only goal it needed in the 24th minute. Freshman Maria Wiefering took a pass from senior Kiersten Clukey around midfield, dribbled toward the goal and shot it through the hands of Manual goalkeeper Caroline Henry. That marked the fifth goal of the season for Maria Wiefering and the fourth assist this year for Clukey.
Highlands sophomore Lindsey Meyer scored the second goal in the second half. She booted the loose ball in the 18-foot box over Henry for the score.
"We were taking a lot of shots from distance, which made it easy when I got a pass to get an easy goal from a close distance," Meyer said. "We were already winning by one at this point. But getting a second goal helped secure our win."
Highlands finished runner-up in the tournament in 2013. The Ladybirds last won the tournament in 2006.
Highlands 16, Simon Kenton 0:
The Bluebirds moved to 3-2 on the season with their second shut-out of the Pioneers this season. Highlands takes on Covington Catholic on Sept. 28. Game time is 5:30 p.m. in Park Hills.