The Bishop Brossart Mustangs girls soccer team headed downstate for the state tournament’s first round hoping to not only change its history in that round, but that of the current 10th Region.
Since the current format took shape in 2012, the 10th Region had been 0-10 in the first round of the state tournament including the Mustangs in appearances in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2020 entering Tuesday’s game. But Brossart (14-8-4) broke through that barrier with a 2-0 win over the host and 16th Region champion East Carter Raiders (16-7-1) on Tuesday.
The Mustangs did it focusing on East Carter’s leading goal-scorer, sophomore forward/midfielder Ellie Thomas, who had 42 entering the game. Bishop Brossart built a wall around her and the plan worked to perfection on a cold and breezy night at Bill Ticknor Memorial Field in Grayson.
“Our defense has been really strong this year and have been really good at shutting down quality players like (Thomas),” Bishop Brossart Head Coach Andy Smith said. “We train on it a lot and we work on our defense every day and it shows in our stats. I’m always proud of my defense.”
Not only did the Mustangs make things tough for the Raiders as they tried many different ways to create runouts for a look at goal, but their pressure also made things difficult in general. That made the Raiders play faster than their coach would have liked to see.
“We came out a little timid in the fact that we were so scared to lose the ball,” East Carter Head Coach Tyler Walker said. “We played the ball off and just got rid of it all the time which hurt us.”
Bishop Brossart took four swings at the net in the first 22 minutes of action. The first missed wide right, the second was wide left and the third came on a penalty kick from senior forward/midfielder Katelynn Kremer that sailed over the crossbar. But the fourth swing found the twine in the 22nd minute from junior forward/midfielder Emma Sandfoss and a 1-0 lead.
“I feel like we had those opportunities and we are always a feast-or-famine team,” Smith said. “We’re either feasting or famine. It’s really tough for us sometimes to find the back of the net, but when we do, we’re pretty dangerous.”
That marked Sandfoss’s 12th goal of the season. She is second on the team behind the 21 from senior midfielder Jill Planeaux.
“Once we scored, we definitely relaxed,” Sandfoss said. “It gave us confidence on the field and we just started playing our game more. The passing went super well. We didn’t have to play a lot of long balls. But we definitely got to work on connected our passes, which was really nice.”
East Carter maintained the constant pressure by Bishop Brossart while fending off shots and runouts much of the half to stay within one at the break. But the Mustangs struck again early in the second half after freshman Rachel Shewmaker deposited the ball over the mitts of the Raiders goalie and a 2-0 lead that would stand for the win. That marked the seventh goal of the year for Shewmaker.
“I think that we are well-connected as a team on and off the field,” Shewmaker said. “I think we just worked really hard and we deserve it. Since we won the region, we were really pumped up.”
Bishop Brossart advances to the Elite Eight at 25-1 Lexington Catholic on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Knights have won 25 straight since opening the year with a 3-0 loss at Louisville power Sacred Heart.
“What we need in order to get through the next game is just a total team effort and true grit and accountability,” Smith said.
Brossart played Lexington Catholic on Sept. 26 at the Mustang Athletic Complex. The Knights beat Highlands 5-0 victory, one of their 19 shut-outs this season, in the state tournament opening round on Monday.