Grayson County’ Lady Cougar soccer team suffered a heartbreaking defeat Monday evening as they gave up two goals to Muhlenberg County in the final eight minutes of play and were beaten 3-2 in the opening round of the girls’ 3rd Region Tournament, which was played at Muhlenberg High School.
The Lady Cougars (9-7-2) had played great defense until those last eight minutes as they kept the Lady Mustangs (10-9-3) to just a single goal and they had forged ahead with a pair of goals in the second half. But in the 72nd minute Keely Dennis sent a shot toward goal Grayson County goalie, Laura Dennis, who moved to stop the shot, but when it deflected off another player in front of the net, it caromed away from her and into the net, tying the score at 2-2.
Then, with less than four minutes remaining, Rilen Gettings sent a beautiful ball ahead to Kylie Byrd on the left wing. Dennis was caught in no-man’s land, undecided whether to come out to try to intercept the pass, or to retreat back to her goal and try for the stop. She chose to retreat and as she moved back, Byrd whipped a low, skidding shot behind the Cougar goalie. As Dennis tried to turn back to get a hand on the ball, it shot past her and into the Lady Cougar net.
The Lady Mustangs had broken through first in the 36th minute when Raegan Blackburn controlled a loose ball inside the 18-yard box and unleashed a crossing shot that eluded Dennis to give the Lady Mustangs a 1-0 lead, which was how the first half ended.
Grayson County had begun getting more control of the action as the first half wore on and missed a golden opportunity in the 24th minute when Bailey Snyder put a pass behind the Muhlenberg defense. Both Gillian Johnston and Keisha Dennis got to the ball and took it toward the goal, but Johnston’s last touch was just a bit too strong, allowing Lady Mustang goalie Haleigh Harris to get to it and turn Johnston away.
That control continued into the second half and the Lady Cougars made it pay off in the 51st minute when Johnston got control of a ball just outside the 18-yard box. She took a couple of touches toward the goal and sent a crossing shot that eluded Harris and settled just inside the far post to tie the score at 1-1.
Two minutes later, Johnston was behind the Lady Mustang defense again, but this time she was dragged down inside the penalty area and Grayson County was awarded a penalty kick. Junior Temple Strader stepped to the ball to take the kick. Her shot was not exceptionally strong, but it was perfectly placed just above the outstretched hands of Harris. As the ball settled into the back of the net, the Cougar bench and the many fans in the stands exploded into celebration.
The excitement stayed high until the final eight minutes, when all that celebration was transformed into gloom and tears.
Keisha Dennis sent a ball forward during first half action.
Brandi Minton brought the ball into the Muhlenberg County
end during the first half.