Huntington High sweeps Midland
HUNTINGTON — It was a sweep for Huntington High on Highlander Hill Tuesday night, as the girls and boys soccer teams both took wins over Cabell Midland.
It was Senior Night for the boys game, and Austin Preece, Max Simpson, Riley Imlay, Andrew Shaghnessy and Daichi Usagida of the Highlanders were honored before the 8 p.m. kickoff.
One minute and one second into the game, Simpson had a goal, and it would hold up for a 1-0 win over the Knights.
The goal came on a free kick from Constantine Svingos from about 20 yards away from the net. Svingos whipped the ball into the box, where Simpson was able to get his head on it to put it past Cabell Midland keeper Blake Beneke.
“We had an actual student section out here, and the blood was just pumping,” Simpson said. “I got a huge adrenaline rush off of that goal.”
The Knights didn’t fold. Cabell Midland came hard at the Highlanders, and even seemed to have Huntington High, usually the more aggressive team, on the back foot a bit in the second half.
“We saw some things that we thought we could exploit and so we made some adjustments,” Cabell Midland coach Tyler Ellis said. “This was a game where you had two very good teams just going at it.”
The Knights seemed destined to draw even when Huntington High keeper Chad Dye came off his line and ended up tripped a Cabell Midland player who was in on goal in the 60th minute.
A penalty kick was awarded, and the ball was placed on the penalty spot at the feet of Cabell Midland’s leading scorer, Carter Sutton.
The senior put the shot well over the goal, and buried his face in his hands after the miss.
“I’m not going to run over and grab his jersey and shout at him,” Ellis said after the match. “It’s tough, he knows he messed up. You just have to move on.”
Huntington High coach Sammy Boateng said he was proud of the Highlanders’ effort against a determined opponent.
“We had some nice things going on out there, and had some great chances, we just didn’t finish some of them,” he said. “But their heart and soul was in the game. Their effort showed that.”
Simpson said of his fellow seniors that there is “no one I’d rather play beside.”
Huntington High was in a white-knuckle situation late, as Cabell Midland poured on the attack, forcing the normally fast-paced Highlanders to try and kill some clock in the Knights’ defensive half, and just blast clear anything that got near the goal.
Cabell Midland sent one last shot away as the clock ran out, though it was from near midfield and went well high and wide of the goal.
The girls’ game was not nearly as tense and Huntington High emerged with a 4-1 win.
Cabell Midland grabbed the lead in the eighth minute, on a counter attack as Highlanders keeper Ericka Budd ran out of the goal to try to track down a loose ball. Budd went to the ground and collided with another player, leaving the ball on the foot of Knights freshman Cintry Johnson, who casually took a couple dribbles before sending the ball into an empty net.
The quick deficit seemed to wake the Highlanders up, and Huntington High evened the score in the ninth minute as Hannah Minihan wheeled on a ball from near the top of the penalty box and sent a high shot left to right past Cabell Midland keeper Mackensie Dillon.
From that moment on, Cabell Midland had a difficult time generating pressure, while the Highlanders seemed to continue to build momentum and develop crisper play as the game wore on.
“We’ve lost starters throughout the season because of injuries, and this is the first game we’ve had some people back healthy for a while,” said Huntington High coach Paul Farrell. “What you saw tonight were two sophomores in middle defense start playing together, two center midfielders who are sophomores start playing together, and our seniors rotating up top, and they played incredible tonight.
“Having some experience on the ball, some confidence on the ball really paid off tonight. It’s a credit to (seniors) Allie Hidlebrand and Hannah Woods and Hannah Minihan, because they gave us a threat up front that we haven’t had all year.”
Hildebrand put the Highlanders in the lead with just more than 3 minutes to go before the half. Woods sent a ball through and Hildebrand got behind the defense, putting her one-on-one with the keeper. Hildebrand slipped the ball to the left of Dillon, who couldn’t catch up with the shot.
In the 67th minute, sophomore Jensyn Leonhart slipped free down the left side of the pitch for Huntington High, and sent in a cross that went off a Cabell Midland defender, then off Dillon and into the net for an own goal.
Junior Megan McCallister capped the game for Huntington High, putting a shot away with about one minute left in the contest.
“Today we kind of opened up a bit offensively, because we finally had the personnel to do it,” Farrell said.
CABELL MIDLAND 0 0 – 0
HUNTINGTON HIGH 1 0 – 1
H – M. Simpson (Svingos), 2nd minute.
Shots: CM 7; H 13. Corners: CM 4; H 9. Saves: CM 8 (Beneke); H 4 (Dye).
CABELL MIDLAND 1 0 – 1
HUNTINGTON HIGH 2 2 – 4
CM – Johnson, 8th minute.
H – Minihan, 9th minute.
H – Hildebrand (Woods) 37th minute.
H – CM own goal, 67th minute.
H – McCallister, 79th minute.
Shots: CM 6; H 18. Corners: CM 1; H 4. Saves: CM 7 (Dillon); H 2 (Budd).
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