|Bluebirds Open LexCath Tournament with Biggest Win of Season|
|PHOTO: G. Michael Graham, Fort Thomas Matters. Highlands sophomore Claire Cavacini (5) and Lindsey Stein (13) go after the ball in a recent game.|
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It may not have played a factor in this game.
But it's not been lost in the fact these two teams have met in the state tournament at Tower Park the last two seasons. Lexington Catholic ended the Highlands season in the first round last year in kicks from the mark on the way to a state runner-up finish. The Bluebirds beat the Lady Knights in the state quarterfinals on the way to a similar finish in 2019, also on kicks from the mark.
Highlands (7-2 overall) came away with this battle by a 2-1 score in the first round of the Lady Knights Cup Challenge. The Bluebirds take on Assumption (8-3-1) for the second time this year back at LexCath on Wednesday. Game time is 8 p.m.
"I think in the second half, we were on the attack most of the time," said Chris Norris, Highlands Head Coach. "Most of their attacks were kind of hail maries. We possessed the ball well in the midfield. We were attacking the corners really well."
LexCath (11-3) outshot Highlands, 13-8 on goal. But senior goalkeeper Meg Gessner made 12 saves for the Bluebirds. Junior Caitlin Loope made six for the Lady Knights.
"Meg played fantastic," Norris said. "She came off the line very well. She had a couple high saves that she had to get her hands on. But I think overall, our back line played very stellar."
The Bluebirds had six fouls to five for the Lady Knights. They also had just three corner kicks compared to six for LexCath. Neither team had any yellow or red cards.
The teams played a scoreless first half. But senior forward Chloe Bramble found sophomore forward Claire Cavacini for the first Highlands goal with 30 minutes left in the game. That marked the fifth assist for Bramble and eighth goal for Cavacini on the season.
"Our team chemistry is really coming together," Bramble said. "The way that we connect passes, play to feet and we know what runs that our other teammates are making. It makes playing the game a lot easier. It's always a really fun tournament to be in."
But the Bluebirds grabbed a huge goal with eight minutes left in the game. Sophomore forward Laney Smith scored her team-high ninth goal of the season on a throw-in from junior forward Anna Melson. That marked Melson's second goal of the season.
The Lady Knights made it interesting with under five minutes left when junior Katherine Truitt scored off a free kick from junior defender Oliva Bretz. Truitt has three goals and Bretz nine assists on the season.
The Bluebirds are still recovering from injuries. But younger players such as freshman Kendall Graves have stepped forward.
"It feeds our confidence. We came together as a team and we moved the ball," Graves said. "We just stepped to the ball quickly and cut off the passes."
The Bluebirds have advanced to the title game of this tournament the last two years, but have not come away with the crown. They last won the tournament in 2006.
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