Sacred Heart took care of one familiar foe Friday night. Now, thanks in part to the strong leg of the recently returned Cassie Amshoff, the top-ranked Valkyries get to deal with another next week.
Amshoff’s long-range goal in the opening five minutes stood as Sacred Heart fended off the fourth-ranked Assumption Rockets 1-0 at The Assumption Green in the 7th Region Girls’ Soccer Tournament final.
“I feel like she (Amshoff) came back stronger than ever,” said Sacred Heart junior midfielder Sarah Buse. “Sitting on the bench made her realize how valuable it is to play on the field and how to respect your playing time.”
Amshoff missed eight games after suffering a stress fracture Sept. 19 against Notre Dame in the final of the Lady Knights Challenge Cup at Lexington Catholic. She returned Wednesday, albeit briefly, in a semifinal win against Male.
“It was very frustrating,” Amshoff said of the time off. “It’s kind of disappointing that your body gives out like that at the end of the season, but it was fun to bounce back and score this 1-nothing goal.”
Amshoff, who connected for the eighth time in 15 games, said it was her first game-winning goal for the Valkyries, but she pointed out she scored a winner in club ball.
Buse, who picked up her 11th assist in 23 games on Amshoff’s strike, knew Amshoff was capable of coming up big.
“I just won it from their defense at the top of the 18 (-yard box) and just laid it off and she hit a good shot,” Buse said. “Cassie’s had a lot of goals from there and she’s been very successful.”
The win allowed the Valkyries (18-4-1) to exact a bit of perfectly timed revenge.
Assumption (16-6-3) entered unbeaten in its last 12 games, while Sacred Heart entered having won seven straight – all by shutout. Since a 2-1 loss Sept. 27 to Assumption, Sacred Heart has outscored its opponents 51-0.
“I think this was a very similar game, but I just think we finished one of our opportunities this time,” Sacred Heart coach Jaclyn Puntillo said. “The last time we played them, we made a couple of defensive errors that this time we didn’t make.”
In the teams’ regular-season meeting, Abbey Glover and Melissa Pickren both scored for Assumption, while Hannah Hennessey had an assist. This time, Assumption had a hard time getting anything going against the Valkyries, who moved into a four-way tie for third place with their 18th shutout of the season.
“They got an early goal and they’re a great soccer team,” Assumption coach Kenyon Meyer said. “They possess the ball, which not only benefits them offensively, but it wears you down because you’re chasing them all the time. And when they get a goal lead, they’re content to just keep the ball for the rest of the game and make you chase it because Sacred Heart is a fantastic soccer team.”
The region title is Sacred Heart’s ninth in the last 10 seasons, with 2012 (Assumption beat Christian Academy in the final) being the only blemish.
The Valkyries are scheduled to play at 13th-ranked Simon Kenton (18-3) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the first round of the KHSAA Girls’ Soccer State Tournament. Simon Kenton beat No. 20 Oldham County, 4-3 in a shootout Thursday night to win the 8th Region title.
“We are very excited to face our next opponent. I’m so happy they have found success there and we’re excited to play them,” said Puntillo, who scouted Simon Kenton on Thursday.
Simon Kenton is coached by former Ballard boys coach Rob Zoeller and features former Sacred Heart standout Abigail Zoeller. The younger Zoeller, a junior midfielder, leads the Lady Pioneers in goals (31) and assists (26).
“I think it’s a non-issue, frankly,” Puntillo said of the coincidental connection. “With her … and we graduated seven seniors, so this is a completely different team. And that was a different team, so we just treat it like any other player who has left the program. So I think it’s a non-issue.”