By Dan Wright
UNION, Ky. – When the Boone County Rebels began practicing this summer, head coach Mike Hughes promised his team if it could win the team’s first district title since 2007, he would run the very same wind sprints he was making them run over and over.
It’s a promise Hughes is now going to have to pay off after freshman midfielder Peyton Black scored on a free kick from the top of the 18-yard box with one minute remaining in the second overtime to lift the Rebels to a 1-0 win in the girls’ 33rd District title game at Ryle on Saturday.
“At the beginning of the season he told us if we win district, we get to make him run,” said senior goalkeeper Elizabeth Ganster. “I don’t think he thought that we’d win at that point, but we came through, and he’s going to pay for it now.”
Black also scored the game winner in double overtime of the district semifinal, a 4-3 win over Conner.
While it was Black’s kick that won the game for the Rebels, it was Ganster and the Rebels defense that provided that opportunity.
Ryle launched 18 shots on goal to just five by Boone County, but Ganster saved seven of those shots while others missed the mark.
“It wasn’t my choice,” said Hughes about Boone County’s lack of offensive pressure. “I think the girls decided we wanted to keep the ball in front of us and we were going to hope to kind of wait for the opportunity and wait for one sprint.”
“It’s a long game and we had a lot of opportunities,” said Ryle head coach Dusty Margrave. “We controlled the game in my opinion. We had a lot of shots and we didn’t capitalize. Obviously, the official thought there was a foul on that play, and by us not taking care of business early we put ourselves in a tough spot.”
Sophomore forward Skylar Lehmkuhl created that tough spot just moments before it appeared the game would go to a shootout by getting fouled inside the semicircle at the top of the 18-yard box after receiving a through ball from freshman defender Marissa Jutzi.
“Skylar Lehmkuhl always gives 110-percent out there and she finally got through there,” said Hughes. “We’ve been working with her on getting on the inside of the defender and she got in there and because of her play, we win the game.”
All that was left was for Black, the Rebels leading goal scorer with 29 goals, to put the ball in the net.
“If its money time, it’s Payton time,” said Hughes. “I’ll tell you that in a heartbeat.”
“The pressure was crazy,” said Black, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player. “I was just trying to hit it over the wall and get it back down.”
Although Black’s kick was deflected, it wasn’t redirected enough to keep it from finding the back of the net.
“It was the best feeling in the world,” said Black.
“It’s like a sigh of relief,” added Ganster, a senior. “In my four years we haven’t won the district, and it’s awesome to beat Ryle.”
The win was the first for Boone County against Ryle since the semifinals of the 2009 district finals, the last time Boone County made it to the regional tournament.
This year the Rebels will enter the 9th Region tournament as a district champion for the first time in six years.
Despite the loss, Ryle also advances to next week’s regional tournament for the fourth straight season. Matchups will be determined at Sunday’s draw.
“We’re going to try to use this as motivation,” said Margrave. “We set out with bigger goals than the district this season. All those goals that we still want to do are in place, so we’re going to try to finish the job next week.”
In the meantime, Ganster said she and her teammates will have to come up with precisely what Hughes’s running routine will be in practice on Tuesday.
“We’re not sure yet,” Ganster said with a smile. “Just all the awful things he’s done to us.”
HALFTIME: 0-0. GOALS: B—Black. SHUTOUT: Ganster (7 saves). RECORDS: Boone County 17-5-1, Ryle 13-4-1.
All-Tournament Team: Olivia Panella (Conner), Emily Conner (Cooper), Emily Erdman (Ryle), Claire Manning (Ryle), Marissa Jutzi (Boone County), Paige Mersmann (Boone County). MVP- Peyton Black (Boone County).