Defense ruled in Thursday’s first match of the Rotary Capital City Classic.
Franklin County and Frankfort High’s boys soccer teams played to a 1-1 tie in regulation, were scoreless in two five-minute golden goal periods, and went to penalty kicks to decide the winner.
FCHS (3-1) made all four PKs it took to win the match 2-1.
“Our defense played fantastic,” FCHS coach Louis Tandy said, “especially in the first half.
“We knew what they were going to do. Travis Skelton is a phenomenal player with speed you can’t imagine. We knew they were going to him. Doggone it, I would too.
“Our defense played him tough.”
Skelton scored the Panthers’ goal on a shot that went across the mouth of the goal and into the far corner of the net with 36:27 left in the second half. That tied the game at 1-1.
The Flyers’ Josh Baeza scored from close in with 20:19 left in the first half to give FCHS a 1-0 lead that held up through halftime.
“I thought everyone played well,” FHS coach Sherrill Smith said. “It was a well-played game by both teams. When a game goes to a shootout there’s so much responsibility on everyone’s shoulders.
“I’m very proud of the way we played. It’s a shame we didn’t have a winner in regulation instead of going to a shootout.
“Our kids played hard. When they come away with first touch and second touch, and that’s effort, when they do that everything will be fine.”
In the shootout both teams have five players take penalty shots. FCHS had the first attempt, and Logan Harp connected.
FHS’ Bailey Spade made his shot to keep the match even, but Franklin County keeper Joe Meyer stopped the Panthers’ next two attempts.
Sandwiched between those stops was a shot by FCHS’ Matt Johnson, and when Hayden Wilkerson made his shot that gave the Flyers an insurmountable advantage and the fifth kick wasn’t needed.
Meyer came in at keeper in the penalty kick portion of the match.
“It’s probably one of the most nerve-wracking games I’ve been in,” Meyer said.
Meyer and Adam Gehlhausen are the Flyers’ goalkeepers, and Gehlhausen started Thursday’s game.
“Adam does a great job for us at keeper,” Tandy said. “When we go to PKs in practice Joe is very instinctive. Adam played a great game tonight. You can tell because they only scored one goal.”
“I was very pleased,” Gehlhausen said about the Flyer defense. “We stayed together as a team. I was expecting a very competitive game, and it was everything I expected.”
FHS (1-3) will play for third place in the tournament Saturday at 6 p.m. against Owen County. Church Gray was in goal for the Panthers Thursday.
“I felt Franklin County had a nice game plan,” Smith said. “They more or less sent the ball wide, and that created a lot of opportunities for crosses. That’s something I’d like to see us do a little bit more of.
“As far as possession, the second half was much better as far as touches. We picked it up, but we need to have that intensity when the game starts and not wait until the second half.”
The Flyers will play Western Hills Saturday at 8 p.m. in the tournament’s championship match.
“This team has so much heart,” Tandy said. “I told them they’re not the fastest, they’re not the biggest, they’re not the best skilled, but they have so much heart and it’s not one player, it’s the whole team. It makes them fun to coach.”
To see more photos from this match, click here.