For the first 33 minutes of its Seventh Region Tournament quarterfinal soccer match against Male on Monday night, defending state champion Sacred Heart was 0-for-Nunn. The Valkyries couldn’t get a shot past Bulldogs goalkeeper Molly Nunn.
“There was a little bit of frustration (because) we should have been putting some of those in,” Sacred Heart junior Cassie Amshoff said.
The Valkyries were undeterred, though. They kept peppering the sophomore with shots before breaking through. Sacred Heart scored two goals in a less-than-2-1/2-minute span late in the first half and rode that to a 4-0 win.
The Valkyries (14-3-1), who are No. 1 in the Kentucky High School Girls Soccer Coaches Association Top 25, will face Christian Academy of Louisville (12-7), an 11-1 winner over Presentation on Monday, at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the region semis at Eastern. Sixth-ranked Assumption will meet No. 10 Manual at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the other semi. The final is slated for 5 p.m. Friday.
“We were a little bit nervous in the first half, but we settled down and started playing our game in the second half,” said Amshoff, who led the Sacred Heart attack with two goals and an assist.
Coming in the Valkyries had outscored the Bulldogs 42-3 in their previous 10 meetings – including a 2-0 triumph in last year’s region semis and a 4-0 victory on Aug. 23. For most of the first half in Monday night’s match, though, Sacred Heart was shut out.
“Male was very organized defensively,” Valkyries coach Jaclyn Puntillo said. “They had 11 behind the ball at all times. So we had to work a little harder, probably than we wanted to, in terms of creating our opportunities. And then some of our early opportunities we were going with power instead of angle, putting stuff over the goal that we should have been finishing. But we really put it together at the end (of the half).”
With a little more than six minutes left in the first half, sophomore midfielder Brielle Heuglin took a feed from Kendall Groza in the box and launched a shot from about 10 yards out. Nunn, who had faced 13 shots and recorded six saves prior to that, deflected the shot, however, its momentum carried the ball into the top of the goal.
“I had just done a 1-2 (combination) with a girl and I just knew I had to get the shot off,” Heuglin said. “And it just went in.”
Two minutes later Sacred Heart sophomore Ashley Durik took a pass from Amshoff on the counterattack and beat Nunn again.
That was more than enough offense for a Valkyries’ defense that has allowed only 12 goals all season.
Amshoff added her team-leading 19th and 20th goals after intermission.
“Cassie Amshoff, (she’s a) fantastic player, there’s a reason why she was the region player of the year. Our thoughts were to man-mark her a little bit and make somebody else beat us. We were able to weather the storm early as they kept coming at us and coming at us and coming at us,” said Male coach Christian Lauria, whose team finished its season at 14-6-3. “(Nunn) showed up tonight, she played fantastic. …However, when they keep coming and coming and coming it’s going to be a long night. But hat’s off to her, and hat’s off to Coach P and her team. They were very well-prepared and they stayed disciplined to their gameplan tonight.”