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Lady Cats beat Owen in OT on PKs

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By Greg Woods

By Greg Woods

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sports@hclocal.com

The Henry County Lady Cats and the Owen County Lady Rebels are making a habit of long, thrilling games.

Last year the Lady Rebels defeated the Lady Cats 3-2 in the district championship game on a goal in overtime. In their previous regular season game Owen defeated Henry late by the same 3-2 margin.

The Lady Cats got payback on Sept. 25 when they hosted Owen County in their first regular season matchup of the year. The Cats pulled out a victory by winning a 4-4 game that went into overtime and penalty kicks. The Cats made three goals from the spot, compared to Owen’s two, to win the contest.

The big play of the penalty kick phase of the game came when goalkeeper Sophie Hughes stopped the Lady Rebels third penalty kick that was headed for the left corner of the goal.

Hughes leaped and went into a full stretch to get a hand on the ball to give the Cats a 2-1 advantage. But Owen tied during the fourth round of kicks before Hughes came out of goal to net the Cats third goal. On Owen’s final kick the ball came at Hughes for the easy save to give the Cats the victory.

During regulation, the story was Rachel Vegh’s four goals for the Cats. Vegh scored on a variety of long-range shots in the game and had several more shots that just barely missed. But Owen County always had an answer.

The Lady Rebels scored first 11 minutes into the game when Hughes uncharacteristically let a ball slip through her hands and between her legs to give Owen a lead despite the Cats dominating most of the possession.

Vegh missed her first opportunity to even the score with 21:20 left in the half when Izzy Miller played a through ball to her and Vegh’s shot was saved by the Lady Rebels’ goalie.

Vegh tied the score with 6:27 left on a shot from the top of the 18-yard box that the keeper had no chance to sotp. Vegh took a pass from Micah Lineman about thirty yards out and dribbled by one defender to get enough room for the shot that went just under the crossbar and out of reach.

The Rebels regained the lead three minutes later on a 15-yard shot from the left wing that was too high for Hughes to reach.

The Cats wasted no time evening the score when Vegh took a short free kick from Miller and dribbled 30 yards downfield around several defenders before letting rip from 30 yards out for her second goal with 1:31 left before halftime.

In the second half, Vegh got her third goal after just three minutes of play on a 15-yard shot from the left wing.

It was Owen’s turn to play from behind, but the Lady Cats nearly made it a two-goal lead when Vegh had a shot sail just over the cross bar from the right wing.

Owen tied it up on breakaway goal from 15-yards out with 24:46 to go in the game.

Vegh restored the Cats’ lead three minutes later with a goal on a free kick on the left wing just outside the penalty box.

The Lady Rebels answered again at the 20:50 mark with their own goal from a free kick from 20 yards out to make it 4-4.

After the scoring frenzy, neither team seriously threatened the rest of the way. Because it was a district game, overtime was needed to settle the game

But neither team could get a goal in the two five-minute extra periods and the game was decided with the exciting penalty kick finish.

Hughes’ game winner was the last kick, but Vegh went first for the Cats and made her kick with a screamer into the top of the net. Justice Kirk was the Cats third penalty kicker and also netted her shot. That left it in the capable hands and feet of Hughes to make the big save and shot to win the game.

When asked how it felt to finally break through against the Lady Rebels coach Brandi Stivers said, “It felt wonderful. We were more strategic about our penalty kick lineup. We put our strongest kickers first to try and get the early goal and put pressure on them. Rachel stepped up and hit hers and got us off to good start.

Rachel was on fire tonight and really enjoying herself. She can kick accurately from long range and we have been talking about that. Tonight she took her chances and it paid off.”

Stivers also was impressed with Vegh’s fellow forward Teressa Deweese who didn’t score but had several good chances and ran her socks off in pursuit of opportunities all night and Izzy Miller who played the final 20 minutes of the second half with painful but not serious knee injury.

“Teressa made several great runs and had a couple of great chances. She’s getting closer to getting a goal. Izzy was everywhere as usual and even got a couple of shots off. She played through an injury late in the half because we needed her out there.

“We started flat in the game. But as the game went on we warmed up and really took it to them. Sophie got down about the one that slipped through her fingers but she made up for it later with the penalty save and final kick.

“This was our biggest win. After three straight overtime games with Owen, we finally got a win. Owen is probably our toughest competition in the district.”