In a defensive, cross-town bout, the Somerset High School Briar Jumpers put in a goal early and a goal late to beat the Somerset Christian Cougars at Somerset Christian on Saturday.
Not only was this the first time the two local soccer programs had ever played against each other, but it was the the inaugural All "A" District championship game. Before this season, Somerset Christian was in the Kentucky Christian Athletic Association and Somerset did not have a district opponent in the All "A" tourney.
In the end, the two successful soccer programs played a great defensive battle in the Briar Jumpers' 2-0 win.
“They certainly played defensively,” said Somerset head coach Brian Blankenship. “We kind of figured that we be it and we would just move the ball a little bit better. We kind of held the ball at times and tried to dribble around them instead of pass around them. If we would have moved the ball a little bit better, it would have been fine. They really didn’t have very many offensive opportunities, so our defense played really well. We just need to move the ball more.”
At the start of the game, Somerset took several shots that just missed the mark. First, senior Derek Arias took a pass from senior Jared Bastin, but his shot was intercepted by Cougar senior goalkeeper Aaron Crubaugh. Several minutes later, Arias took another shot that went over the net.
Six minutes into the game, Crubaugh came up with another big save on a penalty kick that came from Bastin. Just after, senior Jumper Matt Coffey attempted one that drifted off to the left of the net.
With just under twenty-four minutes left in the first period, Bastin got a second penalty kick opportunity and made it count. He nailed it to the right side of the net, just out of reach of Crubaugh to give the Jumpers a 1-0 lead.
Later, with just over twelve minutes left in the first, the Cougars were given a penalty kick and sophomore Samuel Phelps sent it just over the net.
Inside the ten-minute mark of the first period, the Jumpers attacked the net with five goal attempts, but Crubaugh kept them from adding to their lead with four saves.
With just ten seconds left before the break, Phelps took a second attempt for Somerset Christian, but Jumper senior goalkeeper Dylan Jasper saved it to keep Somerset ahead 1-0 heading into halftime.
After the break, the defensive game continued. Arias, Coffey, senior Logan Maynard, sophomore Chandler Edwards, and senior Josh Tucker all attempted a shot or multiple shots throughout the second period, but either just missed, or the attempt was saved by Crubaugh.
Crubaugh continued to keep his Cougars in it with five saves throughout the second half.
Although a quiet half, the scoring silence was broken with ten minutes left in the game when Edwards punched a goal in from deep inside the box off an assist from Arias.
The goal by Edwards led his Jumpers to a 2-0 win over the Cougars in their first cross-town soccer game.
“It seemed like waiting for this game took some out of us,” said coach Blankenship. “We’ve got a big game on Monday and three games in the next four days, so we better raise our level of intensity quite a bit.”
The Briar Jumper victory gave them a 2-0 record on the season, and they will be back in action Monday night for another cross town game, this time against the Pulaski County Maroons at home. Somerset Christian dropped to 1-2 and they also play Monday and they play the North Laurel Jaguars on the road.
When asked what he would like to see his Briar Jumpers improve on throughout the season coach Blankenship said “Honestly, the tenacity when we need to get after it. Sometimes when we score a goal we tend to just mull around and try to do what we can do, but there has to be effort and emphasis on trying to get the ball and win it, and competing for every ball. A lot of teams are going to try to physical us and use physicality and things like that to get at us, so we’re going to have to play through it, and try to move the ball as best as we can.”