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SCHS Coach Joe Turner said he's not sure why, but every time his girls' soccer team faces a talented squad its focus is solely on defense.
"We have trouble against talented and skilled teams because they [his players] just want to fall back and play defense," he said. "We just pack in the back and don't get out on offense at all."
That's exactly what happened on Monday as the Rockets (9-7-1) fell 4-0 to visiting Anderson County (15-2-1, ranked No. 17 in the state).
Turner said he had hoped that he could use a rousing senior night speech to get the team motivated, but it didn't work.
"The girls get pretty emotional on senior night, and we typically come out flat," he said. "We just didn't answer the bell."
Anderson passed the ball around the Shelby defense and found good, open looks at the goal all night and took control with three goals in about a 10-minute span of the first half.
The first came with 25:20 remaining in the first on a clean look that left keeper Laura Metcalf no chance, and the Bearcats added their second goal about eight minutes later off a deflection when Shelby County failed to clear a ball.
Two minutes later, the Lady Bearcats went up 3-0 on a header that crossed up Metcalf. The Shelby keeper, however, kept the game within reach with several key saves throughout the night.
"Laura played really well," Turner said. "Without her back there, it could've been much worse."
Anderson County found the back of the net again with 11:50 remaining in the game on a free kick just outside the box, after Olivia Sanders received a yellow card for a foul. The shot went over the wall and found the top left corner of the net.
Turner said his team's packed-back defense stalled its offense, giving Anderson free run to bring players forward.
"We didn't have two consecutive good passes until the second half, and it was late in the game before we had three," Turner said. "It comes down to believing in your teammates, and trust and communication have been a problem for us."
The Lady Rockets will begin play in the 16th District Tournament next week at Spencer County. Although the brackets haven't been set yet, Turner said his team will play Henry County in the opening round, with the winner facing either Oldham or North Oldham.
"I think we'll be fine if we can get them [the girls] over the fact that they have to beat an Oldham school to get to the regional," he said. "They should be OK with that, but there's a mental block.
"But we beat South Oldham last year, tied them this year and played a good, close game against Oldham County earlier this year. That should show them that they can play with them.
"When we play well and play together, we can play with anybody. But when we just sit back on defense, we struggle. We just have to get everybody together and playing well on the same night."