By Terry Boehmker
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Brossart girls’ soccer coach Brad Gough knew his team would be facing one of the state’s leading scorers in the first round of the state playoffs, but he decided not to make any defensive adjustments.
That turned out to be a costly decision.
Lexington Tates Creek senior striker Mallory Eubanks had four goals and two assists during her team’s 6-3 victory over Brossart on Tuesday at the Northern Kentucky University Soccer Complex.
Eubanks entered the game with team-high totals of 32 goals and 20 assists for the defending state champions, but Gough did not assign a defensive player to stay on her as some of Tates Creek’s opponents have done.
“I decided not to try to man-mark her out of the game, and in hind site maybe that was a coaching flaw or maybe not,” Gough said. “She’s a great player and she was absolutely the difference out there.”
Tates Creek (20-4-3) advances to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs while Brossart closes the season with a 17-4-0 record.
Brossart played defense exceptionally well all season, giving up only nine goals in 20 games and registering 14 shutouts. But Eubanks shredded the Mustangs with her exceptional ball-handling, shooting and passing skills that have earned her a scholarship to Mississippi State University.
“I think for her it’s all about how she turns the corner (with the ball) and accelerates,” Gough said. “I think we didn’t have an answer for that ability to drive by you on the dribble.”
Eubanks scored her first goal 16 minutes into the game. She recovered a loose ball on the right side of the penalty area and blasted a shot into the left corner of the goal.
She got her other three goals in the second half by dribbling past defenders and getting an open shot against Brossart senior goalkeeper Sarah Futscher.
“I’m not surprised,” Tates Creek coach Bo Lankster said of Eubanks’ four goals. “I mean, she’s just that kind of player. She’s explosive.”
Brossart put the ball in the net late in the first half, but it was negated by an offside penalty and Tates Creek led 2-0 at the break.
Three minutes into the second half, Eubanks moved the ball along the end line and slipped a nice pass to junior Jo Jo Gullo, who scored off the assist to give the Commodores a 3-0 lead.
But the Mustangs refused to fold and they got back into game on a pair of goals by senior forward Abby Stadtmiller that made it 3-2.
Stadtmiller’s first goal was a wicked line drive that skipped off the hands of Tates Creek’s goalkeeper and went into the net. Her second goal came off a high crossing pass in front of the goal that Stadtmiller headed in after colliding with the goalkeeper.
“Abby has really been the heart and soul of our team offensively all season,” Gough said. “The passion she showed on the field going after those goals was just fun to watch.”
But Eubanks stepped up once again and scored three more goals to carry the Commodores to the victory.
“I think everyone on our team knew we had to play stronger and had to play tougher,” Eubanks said. “I was just there to try and score.”
Brossart senior midfielder Megan Dierig got her team’s last goal with 7:28 left on the clock. But Eubanks scored less than two minutes later to cap off one of the best games of her high school career.
This is the second straight year that Brossart has lost in the first round of the state playoffs, but coach Gough wanted his players to walk off the field with their heads held high.
“I can’t say enough how proud I am of the way we came back to get those three goals (in the second half) and to never give up right until the final whistle,” Gough said. “I think it bodes well for the future of the program.”
HALFTIME: Tates Creek, 2-0. GOALS: TC--Eubanks 4, Whaley, Gullo. B--Stadtmiller 2, Dierig. RECORDS: Tates Creek 20-4-3; Bishop Brossart 17-4.