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The more Dani Wilson plays against the Central Hardin Lady Bruins, the more ways the Elizabethtown junior finds to torment them.
Finding a way to be involved in all of her team’s scoring for the third straight regular-season meeting against the Lady Bruins, Wilson helped lead 18th-ranked Elizabethtown to a 3-1 win over visiting Central Hardin on Wednesday night with the 17th District’s regular-season title on the line.
Behind the play of Wilson (11-7, 7-0 district), Elizabethtown won its seventh straight regular-season district title, while Central Hardin (9-5, 6-2) was looking for its first regular-season district crown since 2001.
Wilson finished with two goals and one assist, raising her area-leading goal total to 32 and her area-best points total to 40.
She scored the go-ahead goal and provided the game-winning assist in the Lady Panthers’ 2-1 win this season at Central Hardin after scoring the game’s only goal in a 1-0 win at Central Hardin last year in the teams’ lone regular-season meeting.
Three wins for Elizabethtown. Six goals for the Lady Panthers. Six points for Wilson.
“I guess it’s just the hype that comes with playing your district rival,” Wilson said of her penchant to shine against Central Hardin. “It’s one of those storybook types of games, so you want to play for that, your team and your school. So that gets you hyped.”
Elizabethtown couldn’t have been much more hyped after scoring in the opening 66 seconds. Sophomore Rebecca Black lofted a left-side corner kick into the Lady Bruins’ 18-yard box, where Elizabethtown senior Jesse Giles was able to get her head on it. Giles, who headed in the game winner in the final minute in the teams’ first meeting this year on a chip from Wilson, was able to play the ball across the box to Wilson and she tucked it away.
“That was a great feeling because we came out excited and ready to play,” Wilson said. “To get up that early on them got us that more excited.”
That excitement didn’t last too long as Central Hardin came back – just like it did last time.
In the 25th minute, Central Hardin senior Mia Wiersema played a great through ball to reserve junior Kelsey Trout. Elizabethtown senior goalkeeper Haley Jones was able to deflect Trout’s initial shot, but Central Hardin junior Jessi Bunch pounced on the rebound for her 12th goal of the season. Bunch has scored Central Hardin’s last six goals after accounting for all five in Monday’s win at John Hardin.
The goal came with Wilson on the bench after she picked up a yellow card for running into Central Hardin junior goalkeeper Mikayla Durrance for a second time.
Wilson atoned for it in the final 3 minutes of the half as she got the ball more than 30 yards away from the goal and dribbled through a pair of defenders.
“We tried to take away the space behind her, but we didn’t mark her up or anything,” said Central Hardin coach Hal Bender. “We just tried to play her straight up.”
Elizabethtown notched the insurance goal with 29:30 left in the game.
“We kind of forgot our game plan and we got caught,” Bender said. “We were trying to push up to get the equalizer and we left ourselves pretty vulnerable.
Vulnerable enough for Black to score her 12th goal of the season courtesy of Wilson’s eighth assist.
Black, who assisted Wilson for the go-ahead goal in the previous meeting, said the insurance goal proved vital.
“Up by one is a really difficult lead to play with,” said Black, the only area player with 10 goals and 10 assists. “One goal can change the game, so to go up 3-1 really made an impact on our play.”
Black had an impact for her school back-to-back days. On Tuesday, she finished second as an individual and helped Elizabethtown win its second straight region tournament team title in girls’ golf. On Wednesday, she set up the first goal and scored the final one.
“I don’t know which day was better, but I guess probably the region title,” Black said. “We were already up one before I scored. But both days are right up there.”
UP NEXT: Elizabethtown hosts No. 1 Louisville Sacred Heart at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Central Hardin plays at Daviess County at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Nathaniel Bryancan be reached at 270-505-1758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.