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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Saturday Sports Notes

Highlands Soccer Teams Beat Solid Opponents

PHOTO: Allen Ramsey, Highlands junior quarterback Collin Hollingsworth scrambles away from pressure while teammates Tyler Brune (20) and Preston McAlpin block in the junior varsity game Saturday. The Bluebird JV moved to 4-0 with a 41-0 win over Ryle. The Bluebirds have not allowed a point this season.
The rain did not make things easy for either team in a huge match-up at Tower Park.

The Highlands Bluebirds and Louisville Collegiate Titans boys soccer teams came into the game ranked third and seventh in the latest Maher Rankings. Both teams knew they had to win tough games like this to advance far in the postseason.

It took just one goal to win this one. It came six minutes into the game when senior Carter Holmes scored his fifth of the season on a penalty kick. Holmes also has three assists on the year and is fifth on the team with 13 points.

After that, Highlands rode its defense to a crucial 1-0 win that gave the Bluebirds their 10th win of the season to go with one tie. Collegiate dropped to 5-4 with its fourth straight loss.

The Titan losses came to Louisville St. Xavier (3-1) and Trinity (4-2), ranked one and two in the Maher rankings and St. Charles (Illinois) North (4-1) in the Thoroughbred Cup in Elizabethtown on Friday. Collegiate is in the rugged 7th Region with St. Xavier, Trinity and Louisville Ballard. Collegiate has won the All "A" state championship the last two years and won the 7th Region two years ago before losing to Covington Catholic in the state quarterfinals.

"Our guys played them really tough last year (a 2-1 Bluebird win in Louisville) and they were a really strong team last year. They didn't graduate a whole lot," said Chad Niedert, Highlands Head Coach. "They're a competitive team. They already have a guy that is already committed to play at Louisville. They're a little bit young. But they're well-coached and well-organized."

This marked the seventh shut-out of the season for the Bluebirds. Highlands out-shot Collegiate, 17-14. But the Titans put seven on goal to four for the Bluebirds.

"I played against a bunch of these kids on club (soccer)," said Garrett Crowe, Highlands senior. "We were aware they had good foot skill and good speed so we were just communicating that before the game trying to focus on what foot to keep them on. During the game, we focused on who had who so they didn't have any open guys hoping they wouldn't get through and slip one in."

The Bluebirds once again had their two goalkeepers split halves. Senior Will Burnham stopped five shots in the first half and junior Nick Fischer stopped two in the second half.

"Our guys came to play (Saturday)," Niedert said. "Once we got through the first half, we just had to stop and take a deep breath because the whole first half was high energy on both sides, really competitive. We've had some games lately where we've been pretty dominant and we've been forcing teams to defend us. Collegiate did have its fair share (of shots). The strength of our defense from the top with our forwards putting pressure on to our guys in the back and our goalkeepers, it hasn't been called on terribly often recently. But we showcased what we have to offer and that's what's going to get us far in the post-season. Being able to squeak out 1-0 wins is what you're going to see more frequently in the post-season and I think our guys played to what we can control. It wasn't our prettiest game. But we met the demands of the game and the conditions. We minimized risks and that paid off for us in the end."

Highlands plays host to 16th-ranked Covington Catholic (3-3-1) on Tuesday. Game time is 8 p.m.

Soccer, Girls:
Highlands 2, West Jessamine 1:

The Bluebirds (7-1 overall) ventured south and took down the two-time defending state champion Colts (6-3-1).

"Right out of the gate, we were a little skeptical about the weather so we had a quicker warm-up so we had the girls ready to go a little bit faster and they did a great job of preparing for the game in short amount of time," said Alex Dean, Highlands Head Coach. "A lot of that helped throughout the game. When you start well, it usually ends well. That's what happened (Saturday). West Jessamine is a fantastic team. We kind of came out like we were underdogs, like we had something to prove and that's the way we played. I'm really proud of the girls."

Highlands had to deal with cold weather conditions and a grass field. Senior Lindsey Meyer scored both Highlands goals. She has a team-high 11 goals and six assists on the year for 28 points.

The first one came when Tatum Price flicked one over the defend. Meyer then touched it passed the West Jessamine goalkeeper for the score. That marked Price's sixth assist of the season to tie Meyer for the team lead.

The second one came on an assist from junior Lauren Deckert off a free kick. Deckert sent a the ball over the center back defender to Meyer on a touch pass and Meyer finished. That marked Deckert's first assist on the year.

"It's going to move slower on grass so you really want to make sure that your placement is good," Deckert said. "Our coach has talked about just hitting it as quick as possible to get the defense off-guard basically. I just put it down and went for it mainly. Typically the place you want it is right at the center back. That way if it lands right over them, the goalie doesn't have time to or the reaction to come out for that."

Highlands recorded six seven shots including six on goal. West Jessamine had 10 shots including six on goal. Senior goalkeeper Maggie Hinegardner made five saves.

Highlands also had eight fouls, two corner kicks and one offside call. The Colts had three fouls, four corner kicks and no offside calls.

Highlands plays in the Lexington Catholic Cup on Monday against Louisville Assumption (6-2-1). Game time is 8 p.m.

Highlands finishes 4-1 in September Slam:

Highlands (11-3 overall) won its other two Pool A games to make it to the championship game. But the Bluebirds could not take down the Oldham County Lady Colonels (14-6) in a 2-1 (20-25, 25-18, 15-12) loss. Highlands last won the September Slam in 2008.

"Every year is a different year even at the same tournament because every team is different every year," said Katelyn Sallee, Highlands Head Coach. "But for us to play the way we did and have the best finish we've ever had (since Sallee became head coach in 2014) with a team that's half healthy and half stocked with freshmen, it was a testament to a lot of preparation and a lot of willingness to get out there and do whatever it took."

The Bluebirds had 23 kills and assists, six aces, 19 digs and two blocks. But the errors came back to haunt them in the title game. Highlands had 33 including 17 attacking errors and 10 service reception errors.

Freshman CC Shick led Highlands with 10 kills, one solo block and one combined block with sophomore Laura Winkler. Junior setter Audrey Graves recorded all 23 assists with senior Margot Seidel recording eight kills and five digs.

"Just in general, I feel like this team is pretty tough," Sallee said. "They're not going to lay down at any point. They showed that (Saturday). Offensively, that team was pretty strong. We had to find some blocking, fill some holes, make some changes and hit around their big blocks. That was the biggest team we faced (in the tournament), which makes sense. It's the championship."

The Bluebirds rallied to beat Beechwood, 2-1 (21-25, 25-15, 15-7) to start the morning marking the second win over the Lady Tigers this season. Highlands had 36 kills and assists, three aces, 47 digs and a solo block from Shick.

Shick also had 12 kills. Seidel added eight kills and eight digs. Senior Olivia Gessner did another fabulous job at libero digging up 16 balls to go with one assist, one kill and one ace. Freshman Madison Clore added 10 digs and junior Brooke Biltz had seven with junior Ava Hockney adding eight kills, an ace and two digs. Graves had 35 assists.

The Bluebirds then beat Pulaski Southwestern Warriors, 2-1 (22-25, 25-21, 15-11) to win all four pool play games. Southwestern is located in Somerset in the 12th Region.

The Bluebirds had 33 kills and assists, six aces, 32 digs and a Shick solo block. Graves had 30 assists, an ace and five digs with Seidel going for 12 kills and five digs. Shick had nine kills with Hockney going for seven kills, an assist, two aces and three digs. Gessner had 11 digs. Biltz had two aces and four digs with Clore adding four digs and an ace. Clore found herself in the line-up more this weekend with the absences of juniors Casey Dunn and Rylee Kirschenbaum.

"You just have to work hard and you'll get there," Clore said. "(The upperclassmen) support you and it's nice. We're going to practice harder and we got this."

Highlands takes on Newport Central Catholic (8-3) in a crucial 36th District game Tuesday on the Hill. Game time is 7 p.m.

Golf, Boys:
Bluebirds Take 5th in Bowling Green Invitational:

Highlands shot a 316 at the Bowling Green Country Club. That course is the host site of the state tournament. Louisville St. Xavier shot a two-under par total of 286 to win it.

Sophomore Justin Gabbard shot a 74 to lead Highlands and sophomore Luke Muller shot a 76. Senior Ryan Leigh and eighth grader Joel Craft rounded out the scoring with 83s.

Highlands takes on Beechwood at Highland Country Club on Senior Night on Monday. Tee time is 3:30 p.m.

Cross Country:
Schroeder hits PR in Mason Invitational:

Highlands sophomore Maggie Schroeder hit a personal record in the Mason (Ohio) Invitational on Saturday at Corwin M Nixon Pine Hills Lake Park. She finished fifth in the Division I race in 19 minutes, 11.9 seconds.

The Highlands girls finished 13th overall with 291 points out of 18 teams. Mason won it with 69. Eighth grader Alyssa Harris finished 28th in 20:12.

The Highlands boys finished 20th out of 27 teams in the Division I race. Sophomore Will Griffith finished 57th in 17:45. Mason won it with 80 points winning the tiebreaker over Louisville Trinity.

Highlands runs in the Trinity/Valkyrie Invitational on Saturday at Tom Sawyer Park in Louisville.

Football, Junior Varsity:
Highlands 41, Ryle 0:

The Bluebirds picked up their fourth shutout in four games to stay undefeated on the season.

Junior quarterback Collin Hollingsworth threw four touchdowns and ran another one in for the Bluebirds. He threw two to junior Ethan Houze, one to junior Connor Noon and another one to sophomore Jake Fahlbusch. Junior Tyler Brune had a rushing touchdown.

Highlands takes on Conner at David Cecil Memorial Stadium on Sept. 15. Game time is 10 a.m.

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