For the fourth consecutive season, the Mercy Jaguars girls soccer team defeated the Bullitt East Lady Chargers to win the Sixth Region title Saturday on their home field.
The Jaguars got two goals from Taylor Hedges and a goal and an assist from Mikayla Miller in the 3-1 victory. Mercy improved to 11-11-2, while Bullitt East’s season ended at 16-8-2.
With a non-stop drizzle and wind gusts up to 25 miles per hour, Mercy got the first goal when Mikayla Miller hit one high that trickled in off the goalkeeper six and a half minutes into the game. With both teams struggling to get any kind of consistency on offense because of the wind, that was crucial.
“Scoring first was my biggest concern coming into this game, because if you let the other team score first, you never know what’s going to happen,” Mercy head coach Mariah Gratz said. “We wanted to get out to a lead quickly and hold on. As for the wind, I told them it’s just something you have to deal with. Thankfully it didn’t hurt us too badly.”
Miller not only scored the first goal, but she assisted Hedges’ first goal, which came with 15:50 left in the first half to give the Jaguars a 2-0 advantage.
“We were all nervous going into this game, so it felt good to put us up like that,” Miller said. “It was so windy, you would kick it and it would go completely the other way.”
GALLERY | Mercy vs. Bullitt East in Sixth Region final
Mercy took that two-goal lead into the half, but it didn’t last long coming out.
Taylor Buckler scored off a Layne Cutler assist to cut the lead in half just 30 seconds into the final 40 minutes.
From that point on, the two teams played a tightly contested match, with both teams getting chances, especially Bullitt East. The Lady Chargers missed a couple of golden opportunities that could have tied the game.
Bullitt East coach Steve Gentry was disappointed his team put themselves in the 2-0 hole knowing full well how hard it is to beat their rivals.
“We came out a little flat in the regional championship game,” said Gentry. “It’s hard to understand, but we gave up a couple of quick goals. That put us on our heels. And then the second half we were playing against the wind. We had chances. We had a lot of chances that on a good day would have gone in. It just wasn’t our day, but give credit to Mercy. They haven’t lost a game in this region in four years.”
With just under 10 minutes to play in the game, Hedges scored her second goal of the game to put the Jaguars back in total control at 3-1, and that was the final.
Bullitt East 0 1 – 1
Mercy 2 1 – 3
Goals: Mercy: Taylor Hedges 2, Mikayla Miller 1; Bullitt East: Taylor Buckler.
Assists: Mercy: Mikayla Miller; Bullitt East: Layne Cutler.
Records: Bullitt East 16-8-2, Mercy 11-11-2