What a difference a year can make.
The Henry County Wildcats soccer team lost to Spencer County 9-1 last year in a season where the young Wildcats took many beatings. This year may be different if there first regular season game is any indication.
The Wildcats hosted the Bears on Aug. 20 and came away with an exciting, hard-fought 2-2 draw.
“Our defense was 1,000 percent better than in our scrimmage with North Bullitt,” Coach Bobby Jameson said. “The defense rotated and helped each other out. Scott Papineau was huge for the defense.”
The Wildcats opened the scoring with 26:07 remaining in the first half when Jacob Buckley nailed a free kick from 30 yards out that sailed just under the cross bar.
After Buckley’s wonder shot, the Bears got a foothold in the game and possession for a long stretch of the remainder of the half. With 12:30 to go there was a scramble in front of the Henry County goal and a Bear player got a foot on the ball and sent it into the Henry County net.
The teams played evenly for the remainder of the half until the Cats got a scare with 5.8 seconds remaining. Spencer County took a long free kick that freshman goalkeeper Noah Mancuso managed to deflect away from goal. A Bear player followed the shot up and put the rebound in but the goal was not allowed because the player was offside when the first shot occurred. That left the score tied going into the second half.
The teams played evenly throughout the second half with Henry County getting a couple of chances from striker Gavin Jameson and substitute winger Ethan Redmon. The Bears also had their chances but Mancuso made a couple of nice saves to keep the game even.
Spencer County finally broke through with 14:38 left in the game. The Spencer County right-winger tore down the sideline and lifted what appeared to be a cross toward the box that managed to go through several players without being touched and somehow found its way into the net. It was a tough blow for the Cats who fought hard to keep the game tied up to that point.
But the Cats didn’t drop their heads. They worked hard to get the game back on level footing and a heads-up play by Jameson helped the Cats salvage a tie.
After Spencer County cleared the ball out of danger on a move by the Wildcats, Jameson who usually does not take throw-ins, decided to pick the ball up and make a quick throw in toward the goal. Spencer County was caught off guard as the ball sailed toward the goal. A defender tried to clear the waist high ball over the end line but the ball deflected off his knee toward the goal and got past the keeper for an own goal that tied the score at 2-2 with 10:49 to go.
The Bears, who had gotten a fortunate goal just four minutes earlier, saw the tables turned and had to settle for a draw.
Coach Jameson saw the game as a total team effort. “Our defense played their positions and didn’t leave gaps,” he said. “I was happy with Buckley for getting the ball up field and our forwards worked hard to get open. Our wings played as good on defense as they did on offense. Devin Trautwein worried their winger to death on the right side. Gavin played with more energy and aggression and strength than last year. He used his head and made good decisions. Considering how bad they beat us last year, I was very pleased with our performance.”