MURRAY -- Against the defending Second Region boys soccer champions, second-year head coach Jared Rosa liked the fight his Murray squad had on Thursday night at the Mallory France Soccer Complex.
Unfortunately for his Tigers it didn't equate to a win, as senior forward Tyler Greenwell had two first-half goals and Manny Martinez secured eight critical saves in a gritty 2-1 victory for Hopkinsville.
Greenwell was electric in the first 30 minutes of the match, and gave his Tigers a 1-0 lead just six minutes into the game. A midfield turnover by Murray led to transition for Greenwell down the right sideline, and his cross-field boot went top-shelf, left corner and out of the extended reach of opposing keeper Bradley Dawson.
Twenty minutes later and with Hopkinsville still the aggressor, Greenwell got loose again, this time down the left sideline. He absorbed a slide tackle just inside the box, and followed up the ensuing foul by drilling his penalty kick for the 2-0 advantage.
Instead of wilting, however, Murray responded pretty emphatically. The hometown Tigers held considerable possession for the final 10 minutes, and a laser shot from sophomore Chase Renick whizzed past Martinez and cut the deficit to 2-1 with five minutes before halftime.
"I'm really happy that they didn't shut down, and that they fought back," Rosa noted. "And then we gave ourselves a chance in the second half. We really put together some good stuff, but a credit to Hopkinsville. They're tough. They've got a little bit more quickness with and without the ball. They're a little bit more experienced. And that's why I wanted to play them. I wanted to see what it was like, and give (my guys) the opportunity to learn from that."
Indeed, Murray did give itself a chance in the second half, particularly with five different scoring opportunities.
In the 45th minute, Charles Pemwell (fresh off of a three-goal, three-assist night in a 6-0 season opening win against Lyon County) dribbled into the Hopkinsville defense and fired. Straight at Martinez, no less. Saved.
Two minutes later, a Murray corner kick stalled right in front of Martinez, and his backline defense cleared the muck.
In the 54th minute, Pemwell found sophomore Trey Boggess on the right side of the attacking 18 yards, who in turn sent a cross to senior forward Trevor Harrison for a header inside the posts. Martinez was there again, and snuffed it.
In the 74th minute, Martinez saved his best for last, when he saved a blast from Harrison in transition, then closed with a save of a rainbow free kick from near midfield.
Hopkinsville was just as close with two scoring opportunities in the second half, as well, and both would've been by Greenwell. Dawson, who managed seven saves, squeezed two of Greenwell's attempts at the posts to keep Murray within one goal.
"We were talking before the game that Hopkinsville had only lost two starters," Rosa added. "That's a testament to (our guys). We've lost three starters, but one was a back (in Ryan Messenger) and then basically our entire offense (in Nick Bokeno and Zack Mathis). We're going to have to figure out some ways to put the ball in the net."
First Half -- 6' HOP Tyler Greenwell (unassisted), 29' HOP Tyler Greenwell (PK), 35' MUR Chase Renick (unassisted). Second Half -- None.
Shots: HOP 14, MUR 9. Saves: HOP Manny Martinez 8, MUR Bradley Dawson 7. Corners: HOP 6, MUR 4.
Hopkinsville 2-1, Murray 1-1.