|Bluebirds Hope to Bounce Back at NCC|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands junior forward Anna Melson (3) gets in position in the game against Notre Dame on Monday.|
The hype going into the rivalry game led the usual high turnout.
The Highlands Bluebirds and Notre Dame Pandas girls soccer teams came into the game a combined 10-0. It had the makings of another good game in the storied histories of these two solid programs. It also marked the debut of two new head coaches in the rivalry in Chris Norris for Highlands and Suli Kayed for Notre Dame.
But this game belonged to the visitors. The Pandas (8-0 overall) scored 16 minutes into the game when senior Macie Feldman hit a free kick from about 50 yards out that bounced through everyone into the net and added two more in the second half on the way to a 3-0 shut-out over the Bluebirds (3-1). Highlands had won the previous three meetings against Notre Dame.
The Pandas have outscored opponents, 30-1 on the season with seven shutouts. Cincinnati (Ohio) Mercy McAuley is the only team to score on Notre Dame this season in a 3-1 loss in Park Hills on Aug. 21.
The second Notre Dame goal of the game came with 28 minutes left in the game. Senior Ella Simkonis raced down the right side and scored.
"At the beginning of the second half, I thought we had them a little bit on the ropes," Norris said. "We were attacking, attacking, attacking and they happened to catch a ball on top of the (18-foot-line) and take it 90 yards for a goal. Once we were down by two, you could kind of just see their confidence shoot through the roof. They were just pass, pass, pass. We ended up chasing them and couldn't get a handle on the ball."
Feldman added her second goal later in the second half making the final score. Feldman has four goals on the season.
Notre Dame saw all 10 shots go on goal with Highlands recording four shots including three on goal. Highlands senior goalkeepers Hailey Parks and Meg Gessner recorded four and three saves respectively.
"I think (the Pandas) had three blue collar goals," Norris said. "I think they worked hard for them. I thought we did a pretty good job of limiting their players. But we two freshmen in the back and they're learning how to play at the varsity level. Notre Dame has good speed. They have a good first touch. They know what they're doing and it paid off in the end for them."
Highlands takes on Newport Central Catholic (5-2-1) in a 36th District game Wednesday. Game time is 6:30 p.m. at Morsher Field.
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