Thursday’s 9th District tournament title game certainly lived up to its billing, and the night ended the same as it has for the past five seasons — with Daviess County lifting the championship trophy.
Owensboro pushed the Panthers to the edge, but the DC boys’ soccer team had just enough in the tank to come away with a 2-1 double overtime victory at Deer Park.
“That was a fantastic game,” said DC coach Doug Sandifer. “I couldn’t be more proud of my guys. Hats off to Owensboro. It was just a great game. Both teams played their butts off, and that’s how a final should be.”
For a full photo gallery from the game, click here.
The Panthers’ winning goal came with only 1:40 left in the second overtime after Hayden Glover was able to push deep into the right corner. He sent a long cross into the box, where it ricocheted off an OHS defender and spun into the goal.
“Most of the second half we had chances, but so did they,” Sandifer said. “In the first five minutes (of overtime) we missed some opportunities to win it, so I was glad we were able to put one in.”
OHS coach Ryan Haley and his Red Devils were eager for a victory — they’ve now lost six district championships in a row to the Panthers, although they split a pair of matches this year in the regular season — but he was happy with the effort.
“This game was back and forth,” Haley said. “It could have gone either way. Daviess County did a very good job limiting how much we could find out striker. They pressed in the middle and contained us. That was the definition of a battle.”
The Panthers struck first right out of the gate, as Jacob Boling scored on header less than two minutes into the game.
Owensboro’s Josh Head gave the Red Devils their first good look at a goal midway through the half, but his rocket of a shot bounced off the crossbar. A few minutes later, Andrew Saltsman banged a shot off the left post.
Finally, the equalizer came with 3:53 to play in the half when Head scored on a header off a lofted, curving cross from Saltsman.
“I knew the lead wasn’t going to hold up,” Sandifer said of the early DC goal. “We didn’t hang our heads when they scored, we just kept fighting. Every guy did their job on both ends of the field all game. We didn’t sub as much as we usually do so guys had to play a lot of minutes, and they toughed it out.”
DC nearly ended it in regulation, but Hunter Clark’s shot barely missed to the right as the final seconds ticked away. The Panthers also mounted a furious attack in the first five-minute overtime, but OHS found just enough defense to force another extra period.
“I told them they need to go out and play like warriors, and that was our theme going in,” Haley said. “Give it your all. And that’s exactly what they did. If you’re going to lose, this is the way to do it. Moving forward we’re going to use this as ammunition.”
Both teams advance to next week’s 3rd Region tournament at Owensboro Catholic.
The All-9th District Team and Player of the Year — as voted on by coaches — was announced after the game.
9th District Co-Players of the Year
Jacob Boling – DCHS
Josh Head – OHS
Rest of All-9th District Team (alphabetical order by last name):
Harrison Bowman – AHS
Hunter Clark – DCHS
Nate Dailey – DCHS
Reis Dickinson – OHS
Joe Fusco – OCHS
Jacob Gillim – AHS
Bay La – DCHS
Matthew Marks – AHS
Grayson McFarland – OHS
Kevin Payne – OHS
Andrew Saltsman – OHS
Aaron Self – OCHS
Yo Shi Ya – AHS