Worth makes crucial save, Lady Devils defeat Apollo in shootout

August 17, 2022 | 12:05 am

Updated August 17, 2022 | 2:06 am

Photo by Gage Johnson

In a back-and-forth affair for 90 minutes, it was the Lady Devils who came out on top 2-1 after winning a shootout (3-2) with Apollo in a 9th District classic.

Owensboro came right out of the gates looking to take control of the game, earning themselves a free kick 30 seconds into the night. It was junior Sydney Lovett who took the shot, as it was saved by senior JoHannah Hutchinson.

Hutchinson would come up big again in the 14th minute when Lovett would send a corner into the box. As the ball skipped around right in front of the net, Hutchinson laid out and snagged a shot from a few feet away to keep the game scoreless.

Lovett continued to spearhead the Lady Devils offensive attack, nearly getting one to go in the 28th minute. It went off the crossbar, leading to a chance in the box on the other end for Apollo.

This time it was junior Jolie Foster who was found open in front of the net, but her attempt to tap it in with her left went wide and kept the game at 0-0. It wasn’t until two minutes into the second half that Foster connected, as the E-gals grabbed the first lead of the night.

Looking to ramp up the intensity coming out of halftime, Apollo looked to make runs in their attacking third right away to set the tone. Foster did so and was able to draw a foul in the box, setting her up for a penalty kick.

Foster took a few steps before sinking it on the right side of the net, giving Apollo the 1-0 lead in the 42nd minute. The two teams continued to trade counters, but it wasn’t until a tough yellow card was issued that Owensboro could find the back of the net.

Getting a strong goal kick from senior Chandler Worth, it took a couple of bounces before it was just Lovett and Hutchinson alone in the attacking third. The first shot was deflected, as Hutchinson sprinted back and dove to block the second shot.

However, she made slight contact with Lovett and was issued a yellow card. This led to Hutchinson coming out of the net momentarily, while Lovett went on to sink the PK to tie things up at 1-1 in the 65th minute.

The intensity only increased over the next 15 minutes, with Worth getting a ton of action in net. The first shot from Apollo came in the 72nd minute, as Worth tried to clear a shot and it deflected off an E-gals player.

It nearly went in, but a clutch clearance was made by the Lady Devils to keep it tied up. Worth would have to come through again minutes later, making a save near the post before booting the ball and starting a counter for Owensboro.

Nothing came of the counter and Apollo quickly turned it back around with another counter in the 78th minute, as Worth dove and saved Foster’s shot going for the left post. This save didn’t spark anything offensively, as time expired and some extra soccer was ensuing.

Neither team was able to get anything going offensively in the two five-minute overtime periods and with it being a district battle, it was time for a shootout. With both shots sailing past the net, you could hear a pin drop on the pitch as the PK’s continued to fly.

Junior Alana Rone stepped up to sink the second shot, followed by senior Madalyn Decker for Owensboro to even things up. Foster and Lovett sank the third set of penalty kicks, as the leading scorers on the day for each team kept things knotted up.

It was clear that a save was going to be needed to help decide the shootout, so when Worth stepped up to the net for the fourth time she had one thing on her mind—go right. A coach had once told Worth that when trying to save a PK to just pick a side and this time, she guessed correctly.

She corralled the ball in front of the net and shortly after junior Olivia Wilkins was able to put one past Hutchinson, sinking it to give Owensboro the 2-1 nail-biting win.

“My heart was racing,” Worth said. “I was freaking out. It just kinda felt like my team was depending on me and I didnt’ want to let them down. So making a save… I felt really good about that.”

Worth had a monster second half for the Lady Devils, leading to a total of 17 saves in a strong game in net. Head Coach Michael Lovett was thrilled with her play, saying that she was the difference maker in a tough district battle.

“Chandler played how Chandler plays,” Lovett said. “She played phenomenal. She obviously kept us in the game and then she made that big save in the PK’s and that was the difference.”

What stood out most to Lovett about the Lady Devils was their want to win, saying that they never wavered in their confidence and will help them continue to grow as the season progresses.

“The one thing I told them at the end of the game is that I was so proud of their resolve,” Lovett said. “You know in October what type of team you have. You don’t know in August. You hope you know, but you don’t. For them to not give up, to keep fighting and to not panic [was great]. 

Lovett also tipped his cap to the E-gals, saying that they pushed Owensboro to the limit for 80-90 minutes. Head Coach Zach Akin shared the love for his team’s fight, saying that this will be a game that really helps Apollo’s growth going forward.

“I couldn’t have asked more from them today,” Akin said. “They’ve done things that in the past historically they haven’t done. I’ve asked a lot of them and I told them again, this was the best soccer they’ve played all year today. It was just unlucky that things didn’t go our way, but that’s soccer sometimes.”

It was the E-gals willingness to fight that Akin was beyond proud of and something he hopes will help them when they return to the pitch against Ohio County on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. 

“That’s something we’ve really tried to work on over the past few months—that belief,” Akin said. “Even though we didn’t get the result we wanted today, I think that they came together and we’ll get stronger from this. Things like this help you build character and I think we’ll come back from it just as strong as we were tonight.”

Owensboro on the other hand moves to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in district play, taking a day off before hitting the road to face Ohio County at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

August 17, 2022 | 12:05 am

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