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North Bullitt girls' soccer wins

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By Mike Farner

HIGHVIEW -- As the defending district champions, the North Bullitt Lady Eagles had an expectation to repeat as winners of the 23rd District soccer title in 2013.

But the real goal was to advance further along in the Sixth Region tournament, which begins this week at Mercy Academy.

In workmanlike fashion, the Lady Eagles scored early and completed the first part of its mission with a 6-0 victory over the Bullitt Central Lady Cougars.

Both teams will advance to the regional tournament.

"We did start the season with the expectation of winning the district," said first-year coach JoAnna Hale. "We felt we had the experience and talent to win the district."

With a 12-6-4 record, North Bullitt shut out Moore 8-0 in the first round. Keeper Shelby Crenshaw had another shutout on Tuesday night in the championship game.

"We wanted to come out tonight and score early," said Hale. "Bullitt Central really came out ready to play and they were very aggressive early. I think our players knew it would be a tough game."

Bullitt Central keeper Kaylee Lovell was under the gun early and often.

At the 32:53 mark of the first period, Taylor Johnson's corner kick found Rachel Badgett in front of the goal for the first score.

Just 2 minutes later, Amber Johnson scored on a penalty kick to make it 2-0.

Over the course of the next 20 minutes, the ball stayed on the Lady Eagle side of the field but Lovell was up to the occasion in stopping several kicks.

With 10:49 left in the first period, Taylor Johnson found herself ahead of the Lady Cougar defense and knocked the ball into the goal.

And the final score of the first period came with 3:39 left. Elizabeth Grau found the net from the left side of the goal.

After intermission, interim coach Nora Alexander's team was not only able to slow the scoring but also had the ball in its scoring portion of the field more often.

Still, North Bullitt was aggressive and successful early in the final period.

Taylor Johnson was able to guide the ball into the net after Lovell deflected the initial shot on goal.

That goal came at the 37:17 mark.

The final score of the evening came with 33:36 remaining.

This time, it was Amber Johnson who got the ball into the net.

From that point on, Bullitt Central did a much better job of testing Crenshaw.

"I'm extremely pleased with my team," said Alexander, whose program is still in the building stages. "We have a lot of new players and we expect their progress to continue."

The team compiled a 6-6 mark on the year and Alexander said the players were getting better every game.

"We expect them to give 110 percent effort and we expect them to play as a team," said Alexander. "And we have to get them to have the belief that they can win."

The opportunity to play in a district final and advance to a regional tournament will only move the program forward, said Alexander.

"They are playing against the best teams but they are all playing with a lot of heart," said Alexander. "The experience they are gaining will be very valuable."

For North Bullitt, the excellent season will enter the next phase this week.

After getting a bye in the first round last year, North Bullitt fell to Bullitt East in the second round.

Hale is looking to advance further this year. She said both North Bullitt and Bullitt East have excellent teams and should be among the top teams in the region.

However, both will be chasing defending regional champs and tournament host -- Mercy.

"We have a very experience team," Hale said of her six seniors. "But we also have a very good group behind them. I think we have a much better opportunity than a year ago."

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On Monday, Bullitt Central defeated Southern 6-2 and North Bullitt defeated the host Moore team 8-0.

For the Lady Eagles, Taylor Johnson had four goals and single goals were scored by Rachel Badgett, Amber Johnson, Tabatha Schweinhart and Kristi Velasquez.

Bullitt Central got a big night from Kassi Gilbert, with four goals. Other goals were scored by Hope Grimes and Rebecca Todd.

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All-district tournament members were announced following the championship game. Those honored from North Bullitt were: Courtney Bloom, Elizabeth Grau and Taylor Johnson, all seniors; and Bullitt Central's Kassi Gilbert, a sophomore, and Kaylee Lovell, a junior.