Danville girls advance to final eight

October 31, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

Seven years ago, there was no girls soccer program at Danville. Five days ago, the Lady Admirals had never won a regional title.

Now Danville is one of eight teams remaining in the state playoffs, having extended the best postseason run in school history with a 2-0 victory over North Laurel in the Sub-Section 8 game Saturday at Admiral Stadium.

"It's kind of unreal that we're doing this," freshman forward Molly Pittman said. "But we're just taking one game at a time."

Pittman scored the only two goals of the game - just as she did in Danville's previous game - to help ensure another game for the Lady Admirals. But things get tougher from here.


Danville (16-3-1) has won three straight games at home but will now face a difficult road game Monday. They'll play at No. 10 Woodford County for a sectional championship and a trip to the state tournament. Woodford defeated Lexington Catholic 2-0 Saturday to advance.

North Laurel had Bradford this time

Danville had beaten North Laurel 3-0 seven weeks earlier in a regular-season game, but the Lady Jaguars played that game without its top offensive player, Ashley Bradford, a junior who already ranks among the state's top 10 career scoring leaders.

Bradford was the focal point of the Danville defense and was shadowed by sophomore TaShaunda Walker, who was assigned to defend her.

"I kept my eyes on her and tried to make sure she didn't get the ball," Walker said.

Bradford was still North Laurel's most prolific shooter with seven shots - "She got her chances, but (Walker) stopped her several times," Lauer said - but the Lady Jaguars (15-6) didn't get many opportunities as Danville kept pushing the ball toward the other end of the field.

"We just tried our hardest to mark their players," sophomore defender Hannah Martin said.

The Lady Admirals outshot North Laurel 27-9 overall and allowed only three shots in the second half, including just two after the lead increased to 2-0 with 18:11 remaining.

Danville goalkeeper Liz Ruth made four saves, while North Laurel's Heather Helton had eight. But the one Helton couldn't stop was the one that put the game out of reach.

Pittman got the ball about 5 yards to the right of the right goalpost, with just enough of an angle for a shot at the net. Helton was playing toward that side, but Pittman's shot slid under her arms and into the goal to put Danville up 2-0.

"Their goalkeeper was pretty good, and she made several good saves on us," Lauer said. "We were telling the girls at halftime the way to beat that kind of goalie is to shoot it low."

First goal game with 9:51 left

The Lady Admirals' first goal came with 9:51 left in the first half when Pittman got behind Helton to field a deflection and put it home from 7 yards out.

"I thought Molly had a tremendous game again," Lauer said.

Pittman said even though she got the goals, the entire offense was working well.

"We passed it well and made their defense tired and controlled the game," she said.

"We really strived to create open spaces in the defense," Lauer said.

Danville posted its fourth shutout in a postseason run in which it has won five games in 10 days. The Lady Admirals have won eight straight overall, and the players said their success has drawn them closer together.

"It used to be we didn't know each other very well," Walker said. "We're more like a family now."

"These guys really have come together over time," Lauer said. "Every coach likes to see that. If we replayed some of those teams we lost to, I think we'd give them a better game now."

Now they'll face an old family foe in Woodford (18-2-2) which eliminated Danville in its first two trips to the regional finals in 2000 and 2001.

"I've heard stories of that," Lauer said. "There is a bit of history between us."

Woodford has won 15 straight

Woodford is riding a 15-game unbeaten streak, and its only losses have been to No. 1 Sacred Heart and No. 14 Ballard.

"They don't really do things much different than we do; they just do them with a little more speed, a little more power," Lauer said. "It'll probably be a rougher game than we're used to."

The Lady Jackets have allowed only 14 goals all season.

"They're very well organized defensively, and they've got some players in the midfield and up top that are very skilled," Lauer said.

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