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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Highlands soccer heads to state

Highlands Soccer Teams Hit Road for State Tournament

PHOTO: G. Michael Graham. Senior Porter Hedenberg (21) and the Highlands boys soccer team plays the sub-state at Danville on Tuesday. The Highlands girls go to West Jessamine. Both games start at 7 p.m.
A year ago, the sub-state rotations allowed the Highlands boys and girls soccer teams to play host to games at Tower Park in that round.

This season, the teams hit the road against the 12th Region winners. The 12th Region starts south of Lexington in Jessamine County and goes down to the Tennessee line in Wayne and McCreary Counties.

Both Highlands teams won the 9th Region for the second straight year. The Highlands girls (17-3-5 overall) travel to West Jessamine (16-6-2) and the Highlands boys (16-5-4) travel to Danville (17-4-1). Both games take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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Highlands Girls at West Jessamine:

West Jessamine has won the 12th Region four years in a row. The senior class has gone 26-1 in post-season play while in high school for the Colts.

The Colts won the state championship in 2016 and 2017 under the guidance of Head Coach Kevin Wright. They drove to the state semifinals last year before losing 3-0 to eventual state champion Louisville Sacred Heart.

"We've discussed that. That's incredible," said Alex Dean, Highlands Head Coach. "Playing a team that has been that successful the last three, four years is definitely a challenge. We're definitely going to use that to fuel our emotions and get them going so we can get started. We feel that we have a good shot at them. We'll do our best and we know that they'll be ready for us, But we'll be ready for the test."

West Jessamine has outscored opponents, 68-20 on the season. The leading scorer for the Colts is senior Mackenzie Tucker with 36 goals and seven assists. Senior Caroline Absher is second with 14 goals and four assists. The Colts have shut out seven opponents this year.

"I think a lot of teams kind of press high and allow for breakaways," Dean said. "That's something that we don't do. If they put one in, we need to make sure they don't get two. We have a lot of confidence with our regular formation and getting forward and definitely putting two or three on the board."

Highlands has allowed the same amount of goals and shut out 11 opponents this year. The Bluebirds have three players who have scored double-digit goals this season. Sophomore Chloe Bramble leads the way with 15 goals and eight assists for 38 points. Senior Maria Broering 13 goals and 10 assists for 36 goals with sophomore sister Faith Broering scored 10 goals and 13 assists for 33 points.

The Bluebirds ventured down to West Jessamine last season and won 2-1 on Sept. 8, 2018. Dean said the teams played on a grass field, but there was work being done for a turf field. The winner faces either Lexington Catholic or George Rogers Clark in the state quarterfinals.

Highlands Boys at Danville:

Experience favors the Bluebirds in this game. Danville has had the same head coach in Brent Beauman for years. But the Admirals last made the state tournament in 2011 as part of the old 15th Region. The lost to Pulaski Southwestern in the 12th Region championship last year.\

Danville has outscored opponents, 97-29. But the Admirals have struggled against teams in Lexington. They lost 6-3 to Lexington Catholic, 4-3 to Lexington Christian and tied Lexington Bryan Station, 4-4.

The leading scorer for the Admirals is senior Ethan Redmond with 29 goals and 13 assists for 71 points. Senior Gabe Cisneros is second with 16 goals and 18 assists for 50 points and junior Remilson Forlevil is third with 14 goals for 28 points.

"We're more concerned with what we bring," said Chad Niedert, Highlands Head Coach. "The advantage to us is that their strongest player is going to be up against what's arguably one of our strongest attributes. We've defended centrally pretty well. That's where that number four tends to find himself at least offensively. We don't have any missions of doing anything super different to account for him."

Junior Hank Cook and senior Elijah Stevie along with sophomore Cole Lorenzen defend well centrally for Highlands. Seniors Ford Orem and Nate Gesenhues support them.

Niedert also said the schedule favors the Bluebirds. Highlands has outscored opponents, 56-31. Junior Max Farris leads the way with 11 goals and eight assists for 30 points and senior Caymon Stevie is second with 10 goals and four assists for 24 points.

Niedert noted the Admirals have some youth on the outside. Highlands attacked out wide earlier this season and could do the same Tuesday.

Danville plays on a grass field at Bate Middle School. But Niedert has told it is well-maintained. It was put in by the same people that installed the field at the University of Tennesse's football stadium called Neyland Stadium.

The winner takes on either Lexington Henry Clay or Calvary Christian in the state quarterfinals.

Directions to West Jessamine High School from Fort Thomas:
- Head South on I-471
- Go West on I-275 to the I-71/I-75 interchange and go South
- Take Exit 115 onto Newtown Pike going toward Lexington
- Go West on New Circle Road for almost seven miles.
- Exit onto US Highway 68 toward Harrodsburg and travel for nearly 10 miles.
- Turn left on Wilmore Road.
- High School is on the left.

Directions to Bate Middle School from Fort Thomas:
- Head South on I-471
- Go West on I-275 to the I-71/I-75 interchange and go South
- Take Exit 115 onto Newtown Pike going toward Lexington
- Go West on New Circle Road for almost seven miles.
- Exit onto US Highway 68 toward Harrodsburg and travel for nearly nine miles.
- Turn left onto Keene Road/State Highway 169 for nearly three miles.
- Turn right onto southbound US 27 for 17 miles.
- Turn right on Kentucky Highway 34 for nearly two miles.
- Turn slight left on Wildnerness road briefly then stay straight on Stanford Avenue.
- Bate Middle School will be on the right.

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