|Bluebirds Own 11 District Titles in 13 Seasons|
|PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, DWCPhoto.com. The Highlands girls soccer team won its 11th district championship in 13 seasons with a 1-0 win over Newport Central Catholic on Thursday.|
Thus, the 36th District girls soccer tournament took place at Morscher Field in Silver Grove at the home of the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds (11-8-1). It might have been moved to Tower Park with excessive rain, but that did not happen.
The Highlands Bluebirds (17-4 overall) were not able to use their speed advantage as well at Morscher Field. But Highlands still found a way to win by the 1-0 minimum in regulation to claim its third straight district championship and 11th in the last 13 years.
"I'm very proud of our effort," said Alex Dean, Highlands Head Coach. "It's been like that all year, but (Thursday) I felt like we wanted it more. NC has had a great season and (the Thoroughbreds) are still going to continue to play. I think our conditioning paid off. We had a lot of girls play all 80 minutes. It's something we were skeptical about. But they proved to us they can handle it, which is great."
Highlands out-shot NewCath, 22-5 including 12-1 on goal, but could not get one past NewCath senior goalkeeper Kacy Zimmerman less than eight minutes remained in regulation. The Bluebirds kept the ball in the box when it landed at the feet of their second-leading scorer in junior forward Mariah Wiefering. From near the top center of the box, Wiefering booted the ball to her right past Zimmerman for the game's lone goal.
That marked the 15th goal of the season for Wiefering. Wiefering also has eight assists and 38 points.
"I know I wouldn't have done it without my team," Wiefering said. "It's frustrating, but you just have to be patient and we knew that one was going to come because we deserved that. We just kept working and never stopped. It finally came."
After neither team scored in the first half, both had their opportunities. But Zimmerman recorded 11 saves. Junior Maggie Hinegardner started the game but came out in the first half and junior Rylee Thomas took over making the lone save the Bluebirds needed. NewCath had one shot go off the top post minutes before Wiefering's goal.
"The grass is like a completely different game so you have to move the ball faster and make sure your touches are better because there is more room for error on grass," said Gwen Gorman, Highlands senior. "It's great to get the win now even though we would have moved on because it gets us a better seed in the region tournament."
Wiefering won the tournament's most valuable player honors. Sophomore defender Greta Noble and sophomore forward/midfielder Kenzie Nehus also made the all-tournament team.
The region tournament takes place at Ryle next week. The three possible opponents for the Bluebirds are Dixie Heights, Beechwood and Boone County. Highlands had games scheduled against Boone County and Dixie Heights in the regular season, but they were cancelled. The Bluebirds defeated Beechwood, 5-0 in Fort Mitchell on Sept. 19.
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