The Pulaski County Lady Maroons were vying for a second consecutive 47th District title on Thursday night, but arch-rival Somerset had other ideas.
The Lady Jumpers’ Audrey Anderson scored a goal just before halftime to knot things up at 1-1, and then hit the game-winner early in the second frame, helping Somerset win the rubber match between the two clubs this season with a hard-fought, 2-1 win over Pulaski County in the Girl’s 47th District Tournament championship game at PC Field.
“This is a talented group of kids, and I think they just poured their heart into it,” stated a very happy Somerset head coach Steve Watkins, after his club moved to 9-8 on the season with the win.
“We’ve made progress in each game, and everybody out there stepped up for us tonight,” added the Lady Jumper coach. “We knew coming in that we were going to have to play our best game, and I really think this was the best game that we’ve played since I became coach.”
Just 21 days prior, Pulaski County had annihilated the visiting Lady Jumpers by a score of 5-0. Lady Jumper junior Audrey Anderson tried to explain the difference between the two games.
“Tonight, as a team, I think we wanted it more,” Anderson stated. “We wanted to come out and show them (Pulaski) how much we have changed and how much better our team looked. I think, tonight, we played as a team. We passed it and we moved it well. Overall, everybody on our team gave it 110 percent, which is what we've been needing this whole season.”
As for Pulaski County, the Lady Maroons certainly got off to a good enough start.
A score from Kanisha Price off a rebound just 15 minutes into the contest gave homestanding Pulaski County a 1-0 lead, but the Lady Maroons couldn’t make that lead stand.
In fact, PC had three or four golden opportunities to extend that advantage throughout the first half, but this game came down to a night where the Lady Maroons just couldn’t seem to get the ball into the net.
“We had an opportunity to win tonight’s game, but what ended up happening is the fact that they (Somerset) found the net and we didn’t,” lamented PC head coach Keith Rose after the game.
“We had several good looks and a couple of open shots, but we just couldn’t find the net tonight,” Rose added. “Normally, the players taking those shots usually find the net for us, but tonight we just couldn’t find it. I give all the credit to Somerset — they played a heck of a game, they have a nice team, and coach (Steve) Watkins has done a nice job with them since he took over.”
For Somerset, the win was especially sweet for Watkins — who coached the Lady Jumpers from 2008 through 2011.
Watkins was called upon to replace head coach Erin Mullins just over three weeks ago, led Somerset to a district title for the fourth time in his club’s five appearances as the Lady Jumpers head coach.
“I told them at the end of the game that I was honored to be a part of this team — just the way they have responded,” said Watkins.
“They’ve been like sponges, and they have done what has been asked of them, and I’m just super proud of the them,” added the Somerset coach.
As for Rose, with the loss his club fell to 10-9 on the season, but the PC head coach was quick to point out that his team isn’t dead just yet, despite the bitter loss to Somerset.
“Hopefully, we’ll go to the region next week and get after somebody — this isn’t the end of it,” pointed out the Lady Maroon coach.
“We get to play another game, and I’m just so proud of my girls,” stated Rose. “They show up and they go out and play hard every game. They leave everything out on the field and they do everything that we ask them to do.”
Local girls selected to the 47th District All-Tournament Team was Pulaski’s Emily Gross and Kayla Wilson, and Somerset’s Olivia Stevens, Jacey Boling, and Audrey Anderson.
Both Somerset and Pulaski County will move on to next week’s Girls’ 12th Regional Soccer Tournament, which will be hosted by Boyle County High School beginning on Monday night.