DRAFFENVILLE – The Region 1 girls soccer championship is back where it belongs.
That’s the opinion of the Marshall County Lady Marshals, anyway – and, considering that MCHS won 15 straight region titles from 1995 to 2009, they may have a point.
At any rate, the Lady Marshals are champs for the 16th time, the spoils of a 2-0 defeat of rival Graves County Thursday at Colburn Stadium.
“Awesome” is how junior midfielder-forward Cami Jones described the feeling.
“There’s been a drought where we haven’t had it in a long time and we finally got back,” said Jones.
“I think when you win 15 in a row, it’s almost expected and you take it for granted,” coach Michael Boone said. “Those losses humble you, for sure. To be able to come back and win the district and the region, and host that, that’s huge.”
The Lady Marshals travel to Bowling Green to open state tourney play today (6 p.m.) against the Purples, 22-3 champions of Region 4.
Marshall County takes a 20-5 record into the semistate matchup. The Purples beat Graves County 2-0 in Bowling Green Sept. 1.
Jones got the first goal early on, in the eighth minute of the match. The teams, which split regular-season meetings, battled on nearly equal terms the rest of the period.
Senior Toni Fehrenbacher made it 2-0 with 33:25 showing on the second-half clock when she beat Graves goalkeeper Callie Thomas one-on-one, lifting a soft kick over the head of her opponent.
The Lady Marshals’ Melissa Ross pushed the ball to Fehrenbacher, who got behind the Graves defense.
“We actually worked on that in practice, one-on-one” Fehrenbacher said. “I’ve missed plenty in my lifetime. We worked on one-on-one with the goalkeeper for the last two or three practices, not necessarily that certain situation. It just finally clicked.”
“Our defense created the offense. That happened a lot tonight,” Boone said.
The two teams split home-and-home regular-season matches and Marshall County won the District 2 title with a 3-2 win over the Lady Eagles Oct. 17, so the shutout came as something of a surprise.
“That’s as close to a dominant game as we’ve had this year,” Boone said. “To shut them out is big.”
However, even though the Lady Marshals controlled the play, Boone was uneasy.
“Some people say a 2-0 lead is the most dangerous lead in soccer,” he said. “Because if they get the first goal, it’s 2-1 and we’re on our heels.”
They never got the first goal.
“After our first goal, we pretty much focused on defense because we did not want them to score,” Jones said. “We wanted to keep the ball in their half [of the field], not let them come in our half, and that’s what we did.”
Graves County ends its season with a 17-5-2 record.
The last two years, the Lady Marshals’ season ended in the district tourney, last year on a penalty kicks-loss to Graves.
Just like winning the district was not an ultimate goal for this year’s team, neither is winning the region title.
“We have bigger aspirations,” Boone said. “This is great, but it’s not over. There’s still 16 teams left, and we want to keep being part of it as the whittle-down process goes on in the state tournament.”
Jones, Kayla Travis and Fehrenbacher lead the team in scoring with 28, 26 and 26 goals, respectively. Rachel McWilliams has 24 assists.
Erin Jones leads the Purples with 30 goals, followed by Sidney Pruitt with 15 and Elizabeth Walton with 14.
n The Lady Marshals advanced by crushing St. Mary 10-0 in a first-round game Oct. 22.
Travis and Toni Fehrenbacher had three goals apiece and Nikki Fehrenbacher had two.
Single goals were scored by Claire Waggoner, Jones and Brittany Kimbro.