Mercy, Bullitt East reach regional soccer final

Mercy, Bullitt East reach regional soccer final

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Mercy, Bullitt East reach regional soccer final

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After a rough start to the season, Mercy’s soccer team is hitting on all cylinders.

The host Jaguars got goals from seven players in routing Bullitt Central 10-0 in a Sixth Region semifinal Wednesday. The game was called at halftime. The Jaguars, winners of 11 of the last 12 games, will host Bullitt East for the regional title on Saturday. The Chargers beat North Bullitt 6-2 in the opening game.

Coach Mariah Gratz said it took a while to find the right lineup for her senior-laden Jaguars (13-11-1), but once they found the right lineup, everything clicked.

“I think we’re peaking at the right time,” Gratz said. “We’re hoping we can get into state and make some waves.”

Scoring came early as Meagan Geisen registered her third goal this year less than five minutes into the match. Julia Hodge, Sydney Oates and Rachel Smith scored two goals each.

Mercy seeks its third straight regional title, and the underclassmen want it for their senior teammates.

“I think it’s really big,” said sophomore Taylor Hudges, who also scored. “We don’t want to disappoint them.”

For the Cougars (5-13-1), who scored their first regional tournament win over Butler Monday, the outcome wasn’t as important as the experience, first-year coach Nora Alexander said.

“Beating Butler allowed us to make history,” she said. “This is definitely a building point for our team.”

Mercy 10 (Meagan Geisen, Julia Hodge 2, Sydney Oates 2, Rachel Smith 2, Taylor Hudges, Sierra Hoagland, Jacqueline Schmitt), Bullitt Central 0.

Bullitt East-North Bullitt: Christian Foster scored five goals and helped the Chargers (12-8-3) get off to a quick start against the Eagles in the first semifinal.

The sophomore forward scored just 26 seconds into the contest. After the Eagles tied it on Rachel Badgett’s goal in the seventh minute, Foster’s breakaway went past Shelby Crenshaw in the upper left corner with 15:33 remaining in the first half. Six minutes later, she added a header from deep in the box to add to the double the Chargers’ advantage.

Foster missed six games earlier in the season after spraining her right ankle. Still, she ranks second in goals with 23.

“I feel like I’ve gained back my full potential,” she said.

The Eagles (14-9) fought back and cut the Chargers’ lead to one on Ally Johnson’s goal with 14:12 remaining in the game. The freshman forward took advantage of an open goal from the top of the box after Badgett collided with keeper Alexis Nalley in going for a loose ball.

But a three-goal spurt in 3:30 span put the game away for Bullitt East. Foster headed in Alnee Tutson’s corner with 8:50 left to make it 4-2. Less than 90 seconds later, Tutson drove a free kick from 25 yards, her team leading 24th goal.

The free kick, off a questionable tripping call, took a lot out of the Eagles, coach Amber Mink said.

“They still battled back,” she said. “They never quit. They have all the heart in the world. I was most proud of that.”

Foster added another header off a cross two minutes later on her final touch of the match.

Now Foster and her teammates prepare to face a familiar foe in the Jaguars, who have beaten Bullitt East eight times in the last three seasons, including twice this season and the last two district an regional championships.

“We know the story with them,” coach Steven Gentry said. “If we play our best, we have a shot.”

Bullitt East 6 (Christian Foster 5, Alnee Tutson), North Bullitt 2 (Rachel Badgett, Ally Johnson).

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Mercy, Bullitt East reach regional soccer final
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