By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
Coming off a 15-6 record from a year ago, and with nine seniors laden with experience returning in 2012, expectations were at an all-time high this season for the Pulaski County Lady Maroons soccer team.
Despite the fact that PC had lofty goals headed into the fall, the Lady Maroons endured more than their fair share of disappointments this season, posting a sub-.500, 6-7-2 record during the regular season.
However, first-year Pulaski County head coach John Follman was able to do something with the Lady Maroons that had never been done before — win a district title.
Thanks to a nine-goal outburst last night against arch-rival Somerset, it was Follman and the Lady Maroons winning Pulaski County’s first ever district tournament championship on Wednesday night, with an impressive 9-0 win over the Lady Jumpers.
“I reminded our team before the game that Pulaski County had never won a district title before, and I told them that they were paving a new road for Pulaski County soccer,” stated a very happy coach Follman, after watching his team dominate its arch-rival in the championship game of the Girl’s 47th District Soccer Tournament.
“Hey, this is a great feeling and I guess this was a good way to start things off,” added Follman, in talking about his first year at the helm of the Lady Maroon soccer program.
Ashley Johnson got PC off and rolling last night, as she ripped a shot past Somerset’s Kaycee Rader for the first score of the night with 25:42 left in the opening half of play, giving Pulaski County a 1-0 lead.
However, there would be much, much more to come.
Andrea Jenkins booted a perfect corner kick that appeared to be heading into the net, but Kayla Guffey got a piece of it, driving it into the net giving the Lady Maroons a 2-0 advantage with 20:52 left in the opening half of play.
Guffey would add another score later in the first half, while Kirsten Wilburn would tally a score as well, sending the Lady Maroons into the intermission with a very comfortable 4-0 lead, forcing Somerset to have to play from behind.
“PC had some really good goals early on tonight,” pointed out Somerset head coach Elizabeth Morrow, who saw her team fall to 5-12 on the season with the loss.
“It was just one of those things where we got behind and needed to step up, but being behind got in our head again,” continued the Lady Jumper coach. “It was kind of like one of those things where PC was able to get some good goals and there was really nothing we could do about it, but keep playing hard. But, we got down and then it was hard to set the tone.”
Already leading Somerset by that 4-0 margin at halftime, PC put this one away big-time after the intermission, by tacking on five more goals in the second half.
Autumn Hunt notched a pair of goals — with one coming very late on a penalty kick — while Kennedy McAlpin tallied two scores, and Carlee Smith added a score of her own.
It all added up to a 9-0 victory for Pulaski County, but it meant so much more as well for the Lady Maroons.
The 9-0 win gave PC its first ever district championship in girl’s soccer, it evened the Lady Maroons record to 7-7-2 for the year, and it gave Follman and company a ton of momentum to play with headed into next week’s 12th Regional Tournament.
“This was an extreme team effort, and I’m really proud with the way we played tonight,” stated Follman.
“They didn’t let up in the second half, but they kept going and they just played as a team,” said the PC coach. “Now, we’ve got to carry this game over into next week’s regional tournament, and see what we can do regardless of who we draw for the first round.”
Morrow meanwhile said that while her club is disappointed with the setback to PC in a district title game, the important thing for her young team is to not let the loss to the Lady Maroons beat her club again next week in the regional tournament.
“We’ve just got to remind our team that the season’s not over,” said Morrow.
“Yes, this was a tough game for us and a tough loss, and it’s a tough loss for us to swallow right now,” Morrow added. “Again, it’s a mental thing and I’ve got to get in their head that we still have a big tournament that matters that we have to go play in beginning next week.”
Members of the Girl’s 47th District Soccer All-Tournament Team were Sheyenne Perry and Kayla Smith from McCreary Central, Jessica Wallace, April Shelton, and Hala Ayyash made the team from Somerset, while Pulaski County placed Kennedy McAlpin, Noor Al-Qabandi, Andrea Jenkins, and Kayla Guffey to the squad.