Lady Bears open home schedule with win


Chris Jones

Harlan County’s Madison Blanton collided with a Knox Central player in soccer action last week at the James A. Cawood field. HCHS won 4-1 in its home opener, improving to 2-1-1 on the season.

The Harlan County Lady Bears opened their home schedule with a 4-1 win over Knox Central.

“We controlled the ball, we controlled possession, our defense played well and our offense made good runs. We could have easily had a few more goals, but we just struggled putting it home,” Harlan County coach David Day said.

Hailey Gaw allowed only one goal on a penalty kick late in the game.

“Our defense played really well tonight. I was proud of the way they play. We started out a little slow back there, but we stepped up when it counted,” said HCHS assistant coach Troy Gaw. “We are very young on the defense. Chelsey (Caldwell) is our senior leader on the field, and the rest of the defense is young. We start a sophomore in Elina Turner and two freshmen in Hayley Key and Gracie Grills. Our subs for those ladies are mostly freshmen and sophomores also.”

Amber Allen and Emily Fultz had one goal each for HCHS, while Abigail Stephens contributed two goals. Amber Allen had two assists, while Madison Blanton and Taylor Rowe had one apiece.

“We are progressing. We are not where we want to be yet, but the girls are working hard and we will get there,” Day said.


The season kicked off Aug. 22 with a big district matchup involving last year’s district co-champions as HCHS played to a 1-1 tie at Middlesboro.

“We came out a little flat for such a big game” coach David Day said. “We controlled the ball and had possession for the majority of the game, but we just couldn’t put it in the back of the net.”

Blanton scored on a free kick from about 25 yards out and that was the only ball to find the back of the net. Harlan County had numerous other balls at and on the net but didn’t convert.

“We had two games cancelled the week before,” he said. “This was a hard game to start out with. I think that had we had those other two games to work a few issues and nerves out, several of the other chances would have been converted.”

Middlesboro tied the game on a penalty kick in the closing minutes of the game.

The following Thursday, Harlan County fell 4-0 at Hazard.

“Hazard got momentum early on a couple of mistakes that we made,” Day sai.

Hazard scored two goals in the first 15 minutes on corner kicks and another goal about 10 minutes later on a free kick from about 35 yards out.

“We made some changes in that game and the ladies seemed to rally. I felt we were never out of that game, but we still struggled to score,” Day said.

It appeared to many people that the Lady Bears may have put a goal by the goalie for a goal, but it was ruled no goal.

“That would have been a big momentum builder. I believe that would have changed the flow of the game as it was only 2-0 when that happened. I couldn’t see it that well, but several people after the game told me and our staff that it was well across the line.”

The Lady Bears allowed one additional goal during the second half.

Harlan County traveled to Bell County for another district showdown and won 5-0.

“This was a big confidence booster for the team,” Day said.

Melody Gross, Hayley Key and Taylor Rowe each scored one goal for the Lady Bears, while Abby Stephens, a junior forward, netted two. Amber Allen, Madison Blanton, Hayley Key, Taylor Rowe and Abby Stephens each recorded an assist for the game.

Freshman goalkeeper Hailey Gaw, starting her first varsity game as a goalie, earned the complete game shutout.