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BOYS' PREP SOCCER: Late PK lifts John Hardin over Meade County (10/01)

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By Greg Crews

 

By GREG CREWS gcrews@thenewsenterprise.com RADCLIFF — The John Hardin Bulldogs dominated most of the action for 80 minutes on Tuesday night, but the only one that really mattered was the final minute. Thirty-eight seconds away from a 0-0 tie with the visiting Meade County Green Wave, the Bulldogs were awarded a penalty kick and junior defender Josh Johnson put it in the back of the net to give John Hardin a 1-0 win. “I was nervous, but there was a lot more excitement than nervousness,” Johnson said. “I tried to keep as cool as possible. I tried to keep it like any other PK I take. I didn’t really try to think about it too much, I just set it up and put it where I wanted to.” Had John Hardin (11-4-1, 3-1 district) tied Meade County (9-6-1, 3-2), its shot at the No. 1 seed in the 10th District Tournament would have gone out the window. With the victory, however, it is just one win away from claiming the top seed for the first time in the program’s history. “We still have to beat (Fort) Knox on Thursday, so I’m not counting my chickens just yet,” John Hardin coach Alex Shearer said. “We’re going to come out and play hard on Thursday and finish the job.” Though the Bulldogs’ lone goal came in dramatic fashion, it was hardly a lucky win for John Hardin, which outshot Meade County, 13-5 (4-1 in shots on goal).  “All in all, it was a very difficult game for us to play through, considering the two different styles of play,” Meade County coach Matt Pollock said. “They play a lot more knock it around, balls served in, balls in the air. It played to their advantage in a way that it made it hard for us to keep the pace the way we wanted it.” Despite one John Hardin goal that was called back due to offsides, neither team scared the net in the first period. After the half, the Bulldogs came out firing, taking seven shots in 15 minutes and forcing Meade County junior goalkeeper Jordan Compton to make three saves. “I thought we played really well, we just couldn’t seem to put the ball in the net,” Johnson said. Following the early flurry in the second half, John Hardin seemed to slow down a bit. Though the Bulldogs kept the ball on Meade County’s side of the field, they were getting fewer and fewer looks at the net. So, with less than 2 minutes remaining the in the game, there seemed to be little chance that either team would end up on top. However, a John Hardin breakaway, which started deep on its side of the field, put the ball in the possession of senior midfielder Daniel Johnson on the right wing. Johnson pushed the ball downfield before centering it to junior midfielder Eddie Legaspi in front of the net. But as Legaspi leaned forward to try to head the ball in, he was pushed from behind, drawing a whistle and a penalty kick — since Legaspi was inside the box when the foul occurred. With one shot to win the game, Shearer called on Johnson. “Josh has hit some big PKs for us throughout the year,” Shearer said. “A lot of people don’t think a defender is going to be a great penalty kick shooter because they don’t get a lot of offense, but he works on it hard in practice and he can handle the pressure. “I asked him if he was ready and he said, ‘I got it.’” It was the Bulldogs’ second district win which came from a late goal. John Hardin’s 1-0 win over Elizabethtown came on a goal within the final 2 minutes. “It definitely gives you confidence,” Johnson said of knowing his team can pull off a late win, “but we can’t get too confident. We don’t want to get overconfident going in the district and region (tournaments). Hopefully we will keep playing hard.” John Hardin won the junior varsity game, 1-0. UP NEXT: John Hardin plays at 10th District rival Fort Knox at 7 p.m. Thursday. Meade County hosts LaRue County at 7 p.m. Thursday. Greg Crews can be reached at 505-1754