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Roused Rockets romp to regional

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They played Collins for title Thursday

By Josh Cook

LAWRENCEBURG – The Shelby County boys’ soccer team is playing its best soccer of the season at just the right time.

The Rockets, who lost 10 of their first 14 matches of the season, won for the fifth time in six matches Tuesday night, beating host and second-seeded Anderson County, 3-0, in the 30th District Tournament semifinals.

Third-seeded Shelby County top-seeded and defending district champion Collins in Thursday night’s final after the Titans topped Spencer County, 3-0, in Tuesday’s first semifinal.

Regardless of the outcome, both team will advance to next week’s 8th Region Tournament (pairings will be determined this weekend). District winners will host first-round matches, but the final two rounds will be played at Collins.

 

Shelby County 3, Anderson County 0

The Rockets (8-11-1) earned their first regional berth in five years with a big turnaround against the Bearcats (6-11-1).

Anderson County had defeated Shelby County, 5-2, back on Sept. 24 in Lawrenceburg.

“We all played well and played together,” junior goalie Luke Dove said. “The last time we played them, we got frustrated and started yelling at each other.”

That “blame-shifting,” as Rockets Coach Tony Wood called it, was commonplace earlier this season. The turning point, Wood said, came after the aforementioned loss to Anderson and a 4-1 loss to Dixie Heights two days later.

“After that I asked the guys, ‘Okay, are you tired of losing? Are you ready to win? Then you all play as a team,’” Wood recalled saying.

Shelby County’s late-season surge began with a 4-2 victory over Bourbon County. That was followed by a 7-3 triumph over North Bullitt before a 9-0 loss to ninth-ranked South Oldham. Since that setback, though, the Rockets reeled off a 6-0 victory at Bullitt East and a 4-0 victory over Fairdale before Tuesday night’s triumph.

“It was just us coming together as a team – and communication,” sophomore Cole Meredith said.

Meredith scored two of Shelby County’s goals, and junior Julio Morales netted the other.

In the 16th minute of the match, Dove punted the ball to senior midfielder Juan Mancilla, who then passed to sophomore Luke Brown, who fed Meredith for his first goal.

“I just punched it in,” Meredith said. “It was the build-up that mattered.”

Eleven minutes later Morales scored on a huge rip from outside the 18 to boost the Rockets’ lead to 2-0.

“Maintain focus, and fight,” Wood told his team at halftime. “Play like it’s zero-zero.”

The Rockets added some insurance in the 54th minute, when junior midfielder Ramon Rios sent the ball ahead to Meredith, who finished once again with 26:40 to play.

That was more than enough for the 6-foot-4 Dove, who was tested only a handful of times.

“It was amazing. It was great,” Meredith said of Dove’s goaltending.

It also helped that Shelby County was able to neutralize Anderson County’s David Simmons, who scored three goals in that first meeting. Wood changed up his defense, putting his fastest defenders on the wing, making it harder for the Bearcats to beat the Rockets down the line (as they did in the first match) and then to pass to Simmons in the middle of the field.

“It was good. We came together as a team,” Dove said.

Shelby County’s appearance in next week’s 8th Region Tournament will be its first since 2008, when it lost, 3-0, to Oldham County in the final.

“They’ve come together very well at the end,” Wood said.

 

Collins 3, Spencer County 0

The third-ranked Titans (13-3-2) tallied one goal in the first half then added two more in the second. Collins had defeated Spencer County (2-10-1), 11-1, on Sept. 3 but had a harder time Tuesday night.

“It was rough,” Titans Coach Scott Cress said. “We had twenty-six shots to their one or two, but we just couldn’t put it in.”

Senior Chris Shuck scored Collins’ first goal, and senior Jack Oakey had its second. Junior Johnny Nava netted the final goal off a feed from James Thompson with 6:12 to play.

Collins played without senior starters Ryan Metcalf and Jeff Cook, who were nursing minor injuries, as well as senior Austin Lanham and sophomore Mark Lanham, who were on vacation.

“We were getting players healthy, so it was a little rough, but we got a lot of playing time for a lot of our younger guys,” Cress said.

 

30th District Tournament semifinals

Collins 3, Spencer County 0

CHS goals: Chris Shuck 1, Jack Oakey 1, Johnny Nava 1.

CHS assists: Blake Shelton 1, Shuck 1, James Thompson 1.

 

Shelby County 3, Anderson County 0

SCHS goals: Cole Meredith 2, Julio Morales 1.

SCHS assists: Luke Brown 1, Ramon Rios 1.