Mason County came into their home opener on Tuesday energized.
The Royals put the pressure on early, but a goal from Harrison County’s Casey Sledd changed the momentum and propelled the Thorobreds to a 4-0 victory.
“I think the boys were really implementing a lot of what we were practicing throughout the week, but when we get a goal down they get their heads down. That’s something we have been fighting since last year. Same statements, nothing new. We’ve got to get that mentality – Harry Denham was my coach – he used to say, ‘The mental fortitude to push on through,’” said Mason County coach Daniel Forsythe. “That’s something that sports can teach you, but something that you have to be critical of yourself in order to do that. It’s nothing that anybody can force onto you.”
Mason County controlled the momentum early, forcing Harrison County keeper Landon Bowlin to make several saves. The Royals, who took 15 shots in the first half, came up with their best chance 16 minutes in when they got a corner and Nicholas Thomas saw a diving header go just wide of the net.
From that point, the Thorobreds’ offense took over.
They notched their first goal when Casey Sledd received a cross in the box and put a shot just under the crossbar in the 26th minute.
“I honestly believe we’re just a young team. I think they gave us everything they have for 20 minutes,” said Harrison County coach Richard Crowdy. “We could only hold our own, but I think we kept pushing, kept pushing, kept pushing and I think they pretty much died on us and we kept attacking and I don’t know that they expected a bunch of young kids to fight that hard on them.”
They added two more in the final six minutes of the half. The first came from Garrett Dawson and the second came from Alex Sledd on a corner that went through the hands of Mason County goalkeeper Mario Soto.
“We get our heads down, we lose focus on what our game plan is, we lose focus on – I hate to phrase it this way – but just generally how to play soccer,” said Forsythe. “Frustrations come up and we get our minds out of the game.”
The Mason County momentum that had paced them through the opening portion of the first half was tough to come by in the second half as they faced limited opportunities to chip away at the lead, taking only four shots and putting just one on goal.
Harrison County capped off the win with their fourth different scorer – Yahir Menchaca – with 12 minutes to play. Menchaca was able to chip a shot with his left foot off of Soto’s hand and over his head into the goal.
The Thorobreds entered the game with a 2-1 record and outscored opponents, 21-2. Duncan Wiley had scored a team-high seven times.
“He didn’t score tonight. He actually missed a wide open goal which is not normal for him, but he’s rallying the troops, he’s making a lot of things happen,” said Crowdy. “Most people who don’t understand soccer think, ‘Oh, he didn’t score a goal, he didn’t make anything happen,’ but he’s solid and I think they knew it and they had to watch him so carefully that some of my other guys stepped up and put the ball in the back of the net.”
The shutout was the third of the season for the Thorobreds and Bowlin.
“My goalkeeper is really solid. He’s a 10th grader and he’s big, but he’s solid,” said Crowdy. “My sweeper, Wilson Duckworth, I don’t know if I’ve seen a better sweeper all season than him, to be honest.”
Harrison County moves to 3-1 with the win. They’ll travel to Scott for a 7:30 p.m. game on Thursday.
Mason County falls to 0-2-1 with the loss and will host Bourbon County on Saturday. The game is scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m.
THOROBREDS 4, ROYALS 0
Goals: (HC) C. Sledd 26th minute, (HC) Dawson 35th minute, (HC) A. Sledd 40th minute, (HC) Menchaca 68th minute
Shots (On goal): Harrison County 19 (14), Mason County 19 (9)
Corner kicks: Harrison County 5, Mason County 6
Saves: Harrison County 9 (Bowlin), Mason County 10 (Soto)
Records: Harrison County 3-1-0, Mason County 0-2-1