Just when it appeared that University Heights Academy would fall victim to Murray once again in the All-A girls’ soccer sectional, the Lady Blazers pulled out a win for the ages and will advance their first All-A Classic State Tournament in six years.
UHA scored two goals in the final four minutes of regulation to tie the game and went on to outscore the Lady Tigers 3-1 in the penalty kick round to claim the win Monday at Givens Field.
Murray had beaten the Lady Blazers in the sectional contest the last five seasons and nine of the last 10 coming into Monday’s match. And they appeared on their way to another sectional crown until UHA turned on the switch in the second half.
Down 2-0 at intermission, the Lady Blazers played with more aggression in the second 40 minutes. Ashlyn Parker scored in the first minute of the second half for UHA’s first goal of the game to cut the Murray lead in half at 2-1.
Freshman Kyra Jones answered for the Lady Tigers with 20 minutes left when she took a cross in front of the net and powered it home for 3-1 Murray lead.
University Heights, who out shot Murray 11-4 in the second half and 21-6 for the game, kept pressuring the Murray defense in the final few minutes. Grace Pape was tripped in the goal box with four minutes left and converted a penalty kick into the left corner of the net to bring the Lady Blazers to within 3-2.
With two minutes left, the Lady Blazers had a corner kick opportunity but was unable to convert. However, with less than a minute to go Pape launched a shot from 35 yards away that found the corner of the net to tie the match and send the home crowd into a frenzy.
After time expired in regulation, the teams moved into a five-round penalty kick session. Lady Blazer goalie Lainey Burman made two saves on Murray‘s first two shots. Parker found the left corner to give UHA a 1-0 lead before Jayln Fuqua tied the round with a goal.
Pape put UHA up 2-1 in the round, and Murray’s Hollis Bourque followed with a shot that hit the post and caromed away.
The Lady Blazers clinched the win when Piper Hancock found the back of the net for the game winner.
Burman only had two saves in 80 minutes of regulation play, but her two saves in the penalty kick round gave the Lady Blazers the boost they needed to advance their first All-A Classic State Tournament since 2013.
Murray got first half goals from Peyton Wray, on a penalty kick, and Bourque during a seven-minute stretch of the first half. The Lady Blazers looked like they were going to cut into the lead twice only to see shots hit the top post.
The Lady Blazers will play either Prestonsburg (9-1) or West Carter (4-3-1) on Saturday, September 21 in Frankfort. Those teams will play their sectional contest Saturday.
UHA (5-2) travels to Caldwell County Tuesday.