MAYFIELD -- For the first time in 21 years, Calloway County is bound for the Second District championship and First Region Tournament ... after a sensational 4-3 win over Graves County on Wednesday at Bill Hale Field.
The Lady Eagles did play a woman down for the final 25 minutes, after an unfortunate red card was issued on a hustling freshman goalie in Hannah McAdoo trying to stop Lady Laker Zoe Stom attempting to score on a breakaway.
But after Elle Carson's free kick sailed true for a 3-2 lead, Graves County hardly flailed -- and tied things at 3-all with 20 minutes to go after a brilliant cross and Sydney Gream's second goal.
Calloway County stayed poised, however, and with two minutes and change, it was the school's all-time assists leader in Carson who was waiting along the right side for a pass from Addi Schumacher.
And it was Stom -- the school's all-time points leader -- there waiting in the box for a cross from Carson, and she tucked it in between the right post and longtime veteran keeper Chaney Warren for the winner.
"With them playing down a person put them in a tough spot," noted Calloway coach Jeremy Stom. "Hats off to them. They controlled the ball in our defensive end more than I would've liked. Being up a person, you think they'll have to bunker in, and they attacked and kind of caught us off guard, I think.
"But Elle's hanging out in the middle, and I thought their defense kind of got out of shape. Schumacher had the ball, and I immediately told her to 'play Elle up the line, play Elle up the line.' "
And it worked.
For the Lady Lakers: jubilation. A moment they've waited for since 1998, when Brooke Lencki was roaming the pitch and all of this team was just the hopes and dreams of future parents. Stom, the oldest Lady Laker, was born in 2002.
For the Lady Eagles: gut-wrenching. It's a moment they've not felt since 2014, when they fell in the semifinal round to Murray, 2-1, in Mayfield. A great team with a Murray State women's soccer commit in Raychel Mathis, an intrepid offense, a rugged defense, two talented keepers and great coaching.
But only one could prevail, and this time it was the Lady Lakers, who fell to Graves County twice in the regular season by one goal each time (3-2 and 6-5).
The Lady Lakers opened the scoring first, when Carson finished a header from a Bailey Provine corner in the 13th minute.
But the Lady Eagles, who outshot Calloway 18-13, responded with two first-half goals -- the first from Hadley Looper in the 26th minute on a brilliant cross, and then Gream's first after a Calloway turnover in the backfield for a 2-1 advantage after 32 minutes.
Calloway County wasted little time in the second half, equalizing at 2-all in the 42nd minute when a ball wasn't properly cleared near the net, and Anna Hill chipped in a ball settled by Stom.
With the victory, Calloway County will play Marshall County tonight for the Second District title. The two teams split in the regular season, and both were 1-0 contests.
First Half -- 13' CAL Elle Carson (Bailey Provine corner), 26' GC Hadley Looper (assisted, cross), 32' GC Sydney Gream (Calloway turnover).
Second Half -- 42' CAL Anna Hill (unassisted), 55' CAL Elle Carson (free kick), 60' GC Sydney Gream (assisted, cross), 78' CAL Zoe Stom (Elle Carson assists).
Shots: GC 18, CAL 13. Saves: GC Hannah McAdoo 3, Chaney Warren 1, CAL Sunny Clark 3. Corners: GC 0, CAL 2.
Graves 11-4, Calloway 13-5-1.
Murray makes some history, too
For the first time since 2009, the Murray Tigers are back in the Second District championship and First Region Tournament -- thanks to a very physical 4-2 win over Graves County on Wednesday at Bill Hale Field in Mayfield.
Chase Renick aced two free kicks for Murray, with the first one coming in first-half stoppage time and his second proving to be the game-winner, and Gabe Taylor finished a header in the 48th minute on a gorgeous lob from Charles Pemwell following one of Graves County's two yellow cards on the night.
"That was a man's goal," said Murray coach Jared Rosa, describing Taylor's shot. "A man's goal."
Frankly, it turned out to be a man's game, as 12 minutes of second-half stoppage was assessed following multiple penalties and injuries.
In the end, though, it was the Tigers prevailing and extending their season for the first time in a decade.
"I'm proud of my guys, for one, because they do deserve (this), from all the stuff they've gone through this year," Rosa added. "And even in years past, the guys that were on teams that probably might've deserved to get in, but didn't. I'm just happy that they're going to get a chance to play in that setting, because it's a whole different setting.
"It almost has an even (deeper) postseason feel."
With the victory, Murray plays Marshall County tonight for the Second District championship.
First Half -- 30' GC Jr Carbajal (unassisted), 40'+ MUR Chase Renick (free kick).
Second Half -- 48' MUR Gabe Taylor (Charles Pemwell assists), 59' MUR Chase Renick (free kick), 68' GC Israel Carr (unassisted), 78' MUR own goal.
Shots: MUR 14, GC 6. Saves: MUR Bradley Dawson 2, GC Juan Garcia 3. Corners: MUR 2, GC 1.
Murray 9-6-2, Graves 6-11-1.