MURRAY — In the year of COVID-19, a soccer result that hasn’t happened in over 15 years became a possibility. With the games last night meaning nothing towards district standings, there was no need for a winner to be decided thus the result in the girls’ game ended in a 3-3 tie.
It was fitting that the game ended with that score for the girls because the last time a Crosstown Classic soccer game between the Lady Lakers and Lady Tigers ended in a tie was 2003 and the score was also 3-3. In fact, current Murray High boys soccer head coach Jared Rosa was the Lady Tigers coach at the time.
His team cruised to a 4-1 win last night over the Lakers, who were shorthanded due to a couple of injuries.
As for that tie game, the Lady Lakers came out ready to attack. Elle Carson took the opening possession and dribbled through the Lady Tigers defense before finishing her first of three goals on the night.
“We weren’t ready to play,” Lady Tigers head coach Shauna Traylor said. “That’s been the story in some of our games this year. They’ve got to wake up and sometimes it takes a whole half and it stinks. You get down and it’s a lot harder to come back…We did that at Calloway. We weren’t ready and we played much better in the second half but didn’t get one in the back of the net.”
Murray answered in the 21st minute when Kyra Jones scored, but the Lady Lakers retook the lead just a few minutes later on a Carson free-kick just outside of the box. Carson scored again in the first half to give the Lady Lakers a 3-1 lead at the break.
Things turned in favor of the Lady Tigers in the second half as they pressured on defense and created opportunities on offense. Calloway struggled to get the ball out of their own end much of the half.
“I think we got complacent on the ball thinking that we had the game in the bag and had the win,” Lady Lakers head coach Savana Thielen said. “We talked at halftime about trying to get the ball wider and keeping control out of the back and we had a few positive changes, but towards the end, I think we got tired.”
In the 60th minute, Jones scored her second goal of the night off a shot by Angela Gierhart that was deflected into the middle by Olivia Mikulcik. With an injury to the starter, Mikulcik was called into duty as the goalkeeper and came away with 17 saves on 23 shots faced. Still, five minutes after Jones scored, Gierhart found Abby Elmore on the breakaway and the score was tied.
“They know when they’re not playing well,” Traylor said. “There are so many times I wish we could have a timeout in soccer. There are certain times in my career where I know I would have taken a timeout just to talk to them, but we have to wait until half…I love that they fought back for the tie, just wish we could’ve snuck one more in there for the win. I was ready for overtime, even though we were tired. We didn’t need overtime since we’ve played so many games, but we were ready to do what we had to do.”
Both teams were completely exhausted by the end. Minor injuries and a full schedule the last week had both team’s worn down by the end.
“This week’s been tough,” Thielen said. “We came out of Saturday in Owensboro with quite a few injuries. We worked hard in the last five minutes as the clock was winding down, and I was just hoping we could put one away but they had most of the pressure and we kept our cool on defense. We lost our composure late against Graves earlier in the season, so I was proud we kept our composure tonight.”
Thielen said that going forward they need to be able to find some consistent offense that isn’t just Carson.
“We’re looking for Addi (Schumacher), but she’s having some quad issues, and we played her a lot more tonight than I wanted to,” Thielen said. “Hopefully we can find some more combinations up front. I want all of our offensive players to be in the attack and right now it’s really just coming from Elle dribbling up through the middle. We talked about that at halftime. If we would start using the whole field instead of just the middle we would be a better team, so we are going to focus on that in practice.”
In the boys game, the Tigers and Lakers remained scoreless for 34 minutes before Trey Boggess scored to take the lead for Murray.
“I thought defensively we played pretty well in the first half containing their attack,” Lakers head coach Evan Pierce said. “We had one little lapse where we got too worried about Trey (Boggess) and we were behind our line and kept him onside for a ball that got through. I felt like we worked hard in the first half…at the end of the day, I think we were just gassed by the end of it. We have four subs right now and against a team that’s as physical and fast as Murray is we wore down.”
At the half with the score 1-0, Rosa asked his team to make a final push. Their energy level was depleted because like the Lady Tigers, they had played four games in four days and exhaustion was imminent.
“It’s tough and we tried to cycle guys and find 10-minute breaks here and there and everybody got some good time tonight,” Rosa said. “The past two nights we’ve tried to take the air out of the game in the first half and then see what we had left in the tank in the second. Our guys are resilient and I’m proud of them for what they’ve accomplished and how far they’ve come. It’s just tough. I know it is. This part of the schedule was like running through a gauntlet and luckily we came out with just a few nicks and bruises…I’m going to give them a couple of days off and we will meet back on Friday.”
The Tigers responded and Caden Cain scored to give them a little bit of a cushion at 2-0. Just a couple of minutes later the tired legs of the Tigers showed up and resulted in a foul in the box to prevent a scoring opportunity. Calloway sent Jude Bazzell to take the penalty kick and the shot was stuffed, but the rebound found Dalton Puckett and his shot found the back of the net.
The Tigers responded 15 minutes later when Farris Jameel scored to make it 3-1. That was part of the adjustment that was made at halftime.
“I turned to a couple of players that needed to control that game and asked them, ‘What do you see out there? What do you feel is going on?’” Rosa said. “From there we adjusted and did some good things. We kept the ball a little more in the second half and put in the work and it paid off.”
Dylan McCallon scored the final goal of the night on a blistering strike from 30 yards out to give the Tigers the 4-1 win.
Pierce said that the injuries haven’t helped his team offensively, but that the issue is in how they are attacking.
“We are having trouble attacking down the wings,” Pierce said. “We are not going to beat them through the middle, so we just have to figure out how to control the ball and work down the field where we can still have a numbers advantage and build our attack that way…We just need to be a little more patient and work the ball down the field as a team and attack with numbers.”