Western Hills walked off the field champions in Saturday night’s Rotary Capital City Classic at Sower Soccer Field. But it didn’t come easy.
For two strong offensive teams playing each other, defense ruled the first half. WHHS (5-0-1) scored first with 30:25 remaining in the half. Senior Tyler Smith connnected on a penalty kick, giving the Wolverines a 1-0 lead.
FCHS (2-0-1) challenged multiple times, swarming around the net, but Wolverines’ senior goalkeeper Will Davis held his ground.
WHHS head coach Daniel Cowan said scoring early was “huge.”
“Franklin County is an excellent team,” said Cowan, a coach in his first year at WHHS. “They played a great game and gave us all we could handle, but our boys played well too.
“I’m incredibly proud. This is the game they wanted all week long. All everyone talked about was the Hills and County game. They came out and put in work and they did excellent.”
Six minutes into the second half, the Flyers took away their deficit with a score by senior Logan Doris. His teammate Nick Cumpston assisted in the goal by passing the ball to his right straight to Doris, where he then connected with the back of the net for the tie.
This time WHHS responded quickly with a goal by senior Adam Goss, who ran straight at the Flyers’ goalie Nathan Kring. The score gave WHHS a 2-1 lead. Goss continued to add to the scoreboard by passing the ball to junior Elma Nfor to make it a 3-1 WHHS lead with 8:05 left in the game.
As the game looked almost over, FCHS’ Doris scored on a penalty kick with 1:46 remaining.
“That was a really nice penalty,” Cowan said. “Will Davis even guessed the right way, but that was just such a nice shot.”
Then with 1:12 left in the game, Doris went to try again. The ball nearly slipped through Davis’ hands, but he brought it down to the ground with him for the save.
“If that goes, we’re probably going to a shoot-out,” Cowan said. “Who knows what happens. That was the game winning save.”
But it was also a miss that confirmed the Flyers wouldn’t complete their comeback.
“We fought hard, got a goal late and fought hard to tie it up,” FCHS head coach Zac Donnelly said. “We had some opportunities to score that we didn’t make either.
“I have to hand it to Western Hills tonight. We made some mistakes on the defensive end and they capitalized on it.”
Donnelly said losing senior Kyle Hancock to injury during the game also contributed to the loss.
“It really hurt us,” Donnelly said. “He’s been the starting back for the last three years. You could tell it was hard to put someone new back there and I think that’s where some of the mistakes started happening. That’s a big loss for us. Hopefully he’ll be healthy and be able to play again.”
Both teams resume play Tuesday. The Flyers play at Shelby County, while WHHS plays George Rogers Clark at Sower Field at 8 p.m.
“This is my first experience at the Capital City Classic,” Cowan said. “They let me know really early on that they like to win this. I’m glad we could win this to send the seniors out on the right note and for the fans.”
WHHS all-tournament team members were Adam Goss, Austin Tucker, Cory Johnson and Tanner Blackburn.
The Flyers’ all-tournament team members were Logan Doris, Austin Sutcliffe and Nick Cumpston.