Girls soccer season ends after a close game against Lexington Catholic


The Highlands High School girls varsity soccer team. Photo courtesy of Highlands Girls Soccer Twitter Page (@hhsgirlsscr).

     After an incredibly successful season, the Highlands High School (HHS) girls varsity soccer team ended their season on October 24 with an unfortunate loss during the KHSAA State Tournament. The game was extremely close and intense, but the girls ultimately lost 0-1 against Lexington Catholic High School.

      At the end of the game, the score was 0-0. Usually, this would be considered a tie. However, because this game was a championship, there had to be a winner. Therefore, two five-minute periods of sudden death were added. Again, no points were scored. The teams then fought for the win by kicking five penalty kicks each. Highlands scored three, but Lexington Catholic scored four, earning them the win.

      Freshman Laney Smith said, “We were evenly matched skill-wise, so we really had to try hard and get to the ball quicker. We played the whole game hard but could not get the ball in the back of the net.”

      Although the girls are sad to be ending their season, they played outstandingly well this year. They won the Regional Tournament and had the best rating percentage index (RPI, the measure of the team’s strength compared to other teams) in the region. They won 15 out of 19 games, with only two losses and two ties.

      This season was full of wins, but also full of challenges due to COVID-19. At the beginning of the training period, there were lots of restrictions on how practices could work. The Kentucky Highschool Athletic Association (KHSAA) gave the schools a 32-page document with instructions to follow.  For a couple of weeks, only 10 girls were allowed to meet at a time. The coaches created groups of 10 girls each who trained together with one coach for the week. The different groups spread out on the field and had different arrival and departure times. It was a long time before the whole team could practice together.

      Senior Kenzie Nehus, team co-captain, said, “It also made it difficult to bond as [a] team since we couldn’t have gatherings, but we still managed to be close and continue our strong relationships with one another.” 

     Additionally, for the first three weeks of practice, the girls could not even touch a ball. According to HHS Athletic Department administrative assistant Kathy Eaton, the first practices were really just conditioning. As restrictions lightened, it became easier to practice together.

     Despite all of the constraints put on the team in order to stay safe, the season was tremendously successful both on and off the field. The players strengthened both their soccer skills and their relationships with each other. They became closer friends and teammates throughout the season.

     Nehus said, “The success we had this season was a 30 person effort. Everyone contributed and without any of the girls we wouldn’t have been as successful as we were.”