Western Hills’ boys soccer coach Daniel Cowan saw some improvement in his team’s play Thursday night.
Frankfort High coach Sherrill Smith could say the same thing about his team.
WHHS defeated Frankfort 6-2 Thursday at Sower Soccer Field in the second round of the Rotary Capital City Classic.
The Wolverines will play Franklin County at 8 p.m. Saturday for the tournament championship, and FHS will face Owen County at 6 p.m. in the third-place match.
“This was better than Tuesday night,” said Cowan, referring to Western Hills’ 7-2 win over Owen County, “but we’re still not where we want to be. There’s still room for improvement.”
It was the Wolverines who struck first Thursday, with Adam Goss scoring off an assist from Elma Nfor less than 10 minutes into the game.
Goss had the assist on a goal by Cory Johnson late in the first half that gave WHHS a 2-0 halftime lead.
“We possessed a lot better,” Cowan said. “We couldn’t keep the ball Tuesday night.”
Asked if that’s something his team has worked on since Tuesday, Cowan replied, “It’s something we’ve worked on all year.
“We’ve got to come ready to play,” he said. “We’ve gotten outworked a lot more often than I like to see right now. We just have to show up ready to play.”
For Smith, whose team lost to Franklin County 6-0 Tuesday, it was the Panthers’ ball movement that had him smiling.
“What we worked on yesterday was what I was most pleased with,” he said, “and that was our combination passing. I was so disappointed, and yesterday we continued to work on our combination passing.
“We made some nice passes and moved the ball upfield. I was very pleased with our passing in the first half. We have to come out and play smart soccer, don’t kick the ball away.”
Western Hills’ Corey Rogers scored twice in the span of 4½ minutes of the second half to put the Wolverines up 4-0.
His first goal, with 29:48 remaining, came when he followed a shot that had been stopped by FHS keeper Bailey Spade. His second, with 25:28 left, came across the mouth of the goal from the left side and landed in the bottom right corner of the net.
Frankfort got on the board with 18:07 remaining with a goal from James Murphy, and with 9:23 on the clock WHHS was called for a foul in the penalty box.
Murphy connected on the penalty kick to make the score 4-2.
Spade had a save with just over five minutes left, but WHHS’ Mason Smith collected the ball and scored on a putback for a 5-2 Western Hills advantage.
It was the second goal of the game WHHS scored on a follow shot.
“That’s something we talked about at halftime,” Cowan said. “We knew the sun would be in his eyes in the second half and if the ball came out we were crashing the net. It paid off with a couple of goals.”
Goss closed out the scoring with 4:18 remaining going one-on-one with Spade, who came out to stop the shot.
Will Davis was in goal for the Wolverines.
“You have to give Frankfort High credit,” Cowan said. “They played a heck of a game, and their goalkeeper was amazing tonight.”
“Bailey was outstanding at goal,” he said, “and Michael (Reid) did very well at fullback.” Reid had started in goal in previous games.
“It really helped to set the tone for the game with Bailey in goal,” Smith said, “but with that being said we have to learn we can’t stop playing defense until we control possession and are on the attack.”
There were other things Smith saw from his team that he liked.
“I was very pleased with the defensive play of David Perry and Cody Hall,” he said. “They really picked up the defensive pressure tonight to support Bailey in goal. In the middle Taylor Lile was relentless with his constant pressure on defense and his vision on distributing the ball in transition.
“James Murphy and Travis Skelton’s constant movement with check runs helped on the offensive side of the ball. Those two are always threats up top.
“I think our Panthers despite the score played very strong tonight,” Smith said, “and our combination passing is improving.”