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It was a battle of the keepers through most of the game Thursday between Carroll County’s sophomore Michael Hedges and Gallatin County’s senior Collin Hartke. Both players made save after save, including a one-handed grab by Hartke, to keep the score knotted at zero through the midway point of the second half.
“That keeper for Gallatin is a great player, a great keeper,” Carroll head coach Ben Crutcher said. “He made some stellar saves and I thought that Michael really stepped it up and made some great saves for us as well.”
A fluke play with about 9:30 remaining broke the tie as a Gallatin (2-6) defender attempted to clear the ball near his own goal. The ball went in an awkward direction and floated over Hartke’s head into the net.
“A goal’s a goal; I’ll take it, but it’s not really what I was looking for,” Crutcher said. “But if it wasn’t for the pressure that we applied constantly on that back line, (the defender) would have probably cleared it out just fine.”
Carroll’s (3-4) second goal came with four minutes remaining as senior Erick Lewis battled Gallatin inside the box and banged the ball into the back corner of the net. Carroll won the game, 2-0.
Because of the high temperatures at the start of the 6 p.m. match, the game was divided into, seemingly, four 20-minute quarters. Midway through each 40-minute half, the teams paused for a water break as a precautionary measure.
Crutcher said he thought his team played well in the beginning of the first half, but started reverting back to their old tendencies heading into halftime. He told his team during the break to refocus on the task at hand and, despite a few little mistakes, was pleased with their improvement.
“We played to the feet a lot better, we were talking, we were dropping back offering support, we weren’t always relying on the through ball, we were playing the wings a little better,” he said. “We’re still sometimes falling back and playing kickball and just blasting it up there, but if we can work out those little kinks, we’re a force to be reckoned with.”
In addition to Hedges, Crutcher praised the solid play of junior Brandon Stewart and said sophomore Taylor Byrd played really well. “He hustled, he got back on ‘D,’” Crutcher said, “he really stepped it up tonight.”
With the conference victory, the Panthers are 2-0 and will take on Owen County away on Thursday. The two teams met previously in the Owen County Invitational, which Carroll won 4-0.
The Panthers’ final conference game will be against Walton-Verona on Oct. 4, their second-to-last game of the season.
“It was a good win for us,” Crutcher said. “Gallatin is our rival, so we always try to put in good play and beat Gallatin every year. I think the seniors are undefeated against Gallatin, to my knowledge. I think they’re 3-0-1 and I’m really happy and proud of that.”
Lewis to miss 1-2 games
Senior Erick Lewis will sit out at least the Owen County game after being issued his second yellow card of the Gallatin County game for taking off his jersey in celebration after scoring his goal. A second yellow card equals a red card, resulting in an ejection. His first yellow card came a few minutes earlier.
In an interview after the game, Carroll County High School Athletic Director Randy Mefford said he would request reinstatement for Lewis from the Kentucky High School Athletic Association. He said Lewis would have to sit out 1-2 games due to the ejection.