VERSAILLES – Eighty minutes weren’t enough to determine a winner.
Neither were two five-minute overtime periods.
But when the last penalty kick was taken, and Franklin County goalkeeper Nathan Kring had blocked the shot, it was the Flyers who captured the championship of the 41st District Tournament Thursday night at Community Stadium.
FCHS defeated Woodford County 1-0 to win the title. Both teams advance to the 11th Region tournament next week at Henry Clay, and the draw for that tournament will take place later today.
“It was a very entertaining game,” FCHS coach Zac Donnelly said. “Both teams played terrific. I really have to give credit to the Woodford County side. They played very well, and when you go to PKs you know both teams played well.”
When the two teams met Aug. 30, Woodford won 2-1.
“Especially since they beat us in the last game, we knew it would be pretty tough,” said Franklin County senior Logan Doris about Thursday’s match.
“Opportunities in front of the goal were pretty limited. It was a defensive battle, a lot of back and forth. We just kept fighting to keep possession and get the opportunity to score.”
Both teams had those. The Flyers’ best chances to score came when a shot bounced off the far post and away from the goal with 11:28 left in the game, and when Mehdi Boughroud played a ball to the front of the goal in overtime, but the Flyers couldn’t finish.
When regulation ended in a scoreless tie the game went to two five-minute golden goal periods, meaning the first team that scored would win, but after 10 minutes and still no score, the game went to penalty kicks.
“I definitely thought it would be a battle, especially on the defensive end,” said FCHS senior Austin Sutcliffe, “but I always knew we would prevail. I just have all the confidence in my team. On any night we can beat any team if we play our hardest.”
The Flyers made their first three penalty kicks, with Doris, Nick Cumpston and Sutcliffe all connecting on their PKs.
Woodford’s Clay Little made the Yellow Jackets’ first penalty kick, but Kring stopped a shot by Daniel Christian. Zach Blaydes’ attempt found the back of the net for WCHS, leaving the Flyers with a 3-2 lead and two more shots coming for both teams.
Franklin County’s fourth shot went wide left, and Raul Sanchez’s shot tied the teams at 3-3.
Rolman Delgado made the fifth PK for the Flyers, putting all the pressure on Woodford to make its fifth attempt and keep the teams tied at 4-4.
Instead Ian Williams’ attempt was stopped by Kring, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
“I don’t know what the problem is, but people think looking the opposite way is going to help,” Kring said. “Usually when they look one way they’re going to kick the other way.”
The senior goalkeeper used that knowledge to seal the win for FCHS.
“He came up big during the game and with the two penalty kick saves,” Donnelly said. “He was well deserving of being the most valuable player. I’m very proud of my guys and the way they performed this evening.”
Dylan Spencer was in goal for the Yellow Jackets (15-4-2).
The win comes one year after the Flyers saw their season end on penalty kicks against Western Hills in the district tournament.
FCHS (12-6-2) last won the district in 2009, beating Woodford County 2-1 and advancing all the way to the state tournament that year.
The Flyers’ last trip to the regional tournament was 2010 when they went as district runner-up to Woodford County.
“I’ve only beaten Western Hills once before Tuesday,” Doris said. “My freshman year we went all the way to the (state) tournament. That’s something I wanted to do again, to have that experience with all these seniors and try to end on a good note.”
“It’s a great feeling,” Sutcliffe said. “We had high expectations this year. We didn’t have the type of season we were expecting, but we knew the district is a whole new season. It was great, amazing.
“One of our captains (Kyle Hancock) went down (in the Rotary Capital City Classic) and we had to regroup. At the end of the season we were hitting our stride, and we want to keep doing that to state.”
The Flyers have played some of their toughest competition at the end of the year and while they went 2-2-1 in their final five regular-season matches, those matches helped get them ready for the postseason.
“It’s what you like to have towards the end of the season,” Donnelly said. “I thought last year we were tailing off at the end of the season, and this year has been the opposite.
“You want to play this as a team, with all 11 guys on the pitch contributing, and at the end of the year be playing great soccer.”
nBesides Kring, those named to the all-tournament team were Doris, Sutcliffe and Boughroud of FCHS, Adam Goss and Tyler Smith of Western Hills, James Murphy and Bailey Spade of Frankfort High, and Spencer, Sanchez and Little of Woodford County.