It was the kind of loss that hurt head coach Sherill Smith a little more than usual, because of just how well his team played.
The Panthers lost 2-1 to Rowan County at Sower Soccer Field on Monday night in dramatic fashion.
“I was really impressed by how we played,” Smith said. “They came back a little more defensively in the second half, but our kids responded to it. I’m very proud that with 20 seconds to go, we’re still fighting for the ball and it is 2-0, then it is 2-1. Then a break here or there, who knows, anything can happen.”
“Anything” almost did happen for Smith’s Panthers. FHS was down early after senior Trevor Newsome raced to the left side of the net for the Vikings and hit the ball over goalie Michael Reid’s head into the back of goal. Rowan County ended the first half leading 1-0.
After halftime, Smith said Frankfort brought a new intensity to the field. The Panthers second half effort allowed them to possess the ball for 12 percent longer than Rowan County.
But Rowan County added quickly to its score total with a goal by junior Joseph Greenhill connecting the ball with the back of the net at 11 minutes left in the game.
“The second goal, it was dark and the ball just happened to drop in behind him,” Smith said. “Tonight, (Michael Reid) just made save after save. He played a very nice game tonight. It was a game you hate to lose. I felt like we played well the whole night against a very nice Rowan County team. A very tough Rowan County team.”
Down 2-0, the Panthers didn’t quit fighting. With 20 seconds left, senior James Murphy was in front of the Vikings’ goal with a near score when he was kicked by the goalkeeper Ty Alderman. Alderman was yellow carded and taken out of the game, while senior Sebastian Taylor had to step in for his teammate. Murphy also had to exit the field.
“Because the trainer went out, James had to go out of the game. That’s the rule. Then we had to get someone to take his place. At that point, Bailey stepped up and did what a kid had to do. He had a very nice game today.”
Sophomore Bailey Spade lined up in front of the goal and connected the ball perfectly into the corner of the net, putting the Panthers on the board and only down one point with seconds remaining.
Smith said he was especially proud of the way his fullbacks played tonight, including Keith Estes, Matthew Carpenter and David Perry and defenders Spade and Cody Hall.
“I was so proud of our fullbacks,” Smith said. “In a 2-1 loss, our fullbacks played their hearts out.”
When asked how they would come out and play again after a loss like Monday’s, Smith said it wouldn’t be easy. FHS (7-9) plays Lincoln County tonight at 7 p.m.
“You take what the big guy gives you and you move on,” Smith said. “We’re trying to get our kids ready for district play. The march is on to try to stay strong and move in that direction.”
WOLVERINES RANKED NO. 5
Western Hills’ boys soccer team has risen in the state rankings to No. 5 this week. WHHS was ranked ninth last week.
The undefeated Wolverines (15-0-1) play at Woodford County tonight. The Yellowjackets (10-3-1) are ranked 15th in the state.
Franklin County, with a 9-4-1 record, is in the top 25 at No. 24. The Flyers play at No. 3 Dunbar (13-2-1) tonight.