For the first time in two years, Northern Kentucky has a girls’ team and a boys’ team in the Kentucky High School Athletic Association state soccer tournament semifinals. In both cases, South Oldham is in the way at Henry Clay.
Defending girls’ champion Notre Dame Academy has remained on track for a third state championship in four seasons in Lexington. The Ninth Region champions (20-4-1) play Eighth Region champion South Oldham (21-4) at 8 p.m. in Wednesday’s second semifinal.
A win puts Notre Dame in a fourth consecutive state championship game, and provides an opportunity for the Pandas’ fourth state crown. They won titles in 2004, 2011 and 2013. They lost in the 2012 final. South Oldham has won a state-record six titles, the last in 2001. Sacred Heart and Owensboro Catholic meet in the 6 p.m. semifinal. The winners play in Saturday’s 5 p.m. final.
“Obviously, they’re a good team,” Notre Dame coach Dave Gronotte said of the Lady Dragons. “I had a chance to watch them Saturday (in a 4-0 quarterfinal win over South Laurel), which is good because I hadn’t seen them. Now we have an idea.”
Scott is back in the boys’ final four for the second time in five years. The 10th Region champion Eagles, 3-2 upset winners Saturday over 2013 state runner-up Louisville Trinity, take on the other soccer team from South Oldham in Thursday’s 6 p.m. semifinal.
Scott (20-2-1) has won nine in a row and 12 of 13. South Oldham (15-6-3) hasn’t lost since Sept. 20, winning eight in a row after managing just seven wins the first 14 matches. Both teams are seeking first state crowns.
“Our focus is on defense,” said Scott coach Dahlian Anderson, whose squad has outscored six postseason foes, 32-7. “If we can kick them out on defense, our offense will be up to the job.”
Defending boys’ champion Paul Laurence Dunbar, located less than 10 miles from Henry Clay, plays Bowling Green in the 8 p.m. semifinal. Thursday’s winners meet in Saturday’s 7 p.m. championship game.
GIRLS’ TOURNAMENT: Notre Dame, No. 2 in the state at maherrankings.com, has won seven straight matches and 13 of 14. South Oldham is ranked No. 6. The Pandas have shut out nine of their last 11 opponents, outscoring them 47-2. They haven’t surrendered a goal since the Ninth Region tournament quarterfinals, and have allowed a total of three shots on goal in two state tournament games – one in Saturday’s 2-0 quarterfinal win against Russell and two in a 1-0 first-round win over Paul Laurence Dunbar.
“The defense has been outstanding,” coach Gronotte said. “Our whole topic of communication since the tournament started has been getting that first goal, because it gives us so much confidence.”
Backed by the rotating defense of Carissa Dyer, Savanna Woods, Macy Tranter and Harper Lamb, Pandas goalkeeper Courtney Hansel has recorded 16 shutouts. The Pandas have allowed 14 goals, an average of 0.56 per game. Notre Dame is second in the state in scoring defense; South Oldham is 10th.
Ellie Vandergriff has been NDA’s scoring star. She and senior striker Mandy Arnzen, an Ohio University recruit, scored against Russell. Vandergriff had the lone goal against Dunbar. On defense, the Pandas will attempt to stop Arnzen’s future teammate, South Oldham’s all-time leading scorer, senior Stephanie Rowland, also an Ohio University recruit. She ranked 11th in the state in scoring with 38 goals, and had her foot on 30 percent of the rest of the team’s offense with 12 assists. She’s in Kentucky’s top 25 all-time with well over 100 goals. She has four in the tournament.
BOYS’ TOURNAMENT: The top scorer in the boys’ event is senior Luke Treadway for Scott, No. 6 at maherrankings.com. The University of Kentucky recruit has seven goals in the state tournament, pushing his career total to 103. He’s one of 15 boys in state history with more than 100. He’s second all-time in Northern Kentucky, behind Highlands’ Mark McEntire, who scored 112 from 1985-89. Treadway scored three goals against Trinity’s state-leading defense. He had four in the first round against Boyle County.
The defense for South Oldham, No. 5 in the state rankings, is giving up 0.7 goals per game, third in the state. Opponents are having problems with Scott because Blake Schneider has proved Treadway’s scoring equal this season, and the Eagles play tough defense. Both seniors have 28 goals. Schneider scored twice against Boyle County. Keeper C.J. Seay has 11 shutouts for the Eagles.