No ordinary kickoff

Jasmine Giddings (30) and Callie Haywood (2) depart to the cheers of Scott County girls’ soccer fans and teammates after a mutual agreement to let the injured seniors kick off Wednesday night’s regular-season finale against East Jessamine.

Given the choice for crafting its signature moment of the girls' soccer season, Scott County probably would have picked Callie Haywood to serve up an assist to Jasmine Giddings, followed a triumphant group hug.

Fate intervened and prevented that from being a realistic script, but thanks to a little generosity from the opponent and officials, the Lady Cards' made the opening seconds of Wednesday's senior night game against East Jessamine a sequence their fallen teammates won't soon forget.

After the whistle, Giddings kicked the ball softly to Haywood, who intentionally booted it out of bounds. That stopped play and allowed the two SC seniors, large knee braces protecting the injuries that sidelined them this season, to walk off the field with a large ovation in their ears.

Also significant: Only one substitute entered the game as the two departed. East Jessamine and the referees agreed to let the Lady Cards have all 12 of their seniors — technically one too many — on the field for the magic moment.

“That was really something. I'm really happy the refs allowed it and the other coaches were gracious enough to let us do something like that,” SC coach Scott McKelway said. “Jasmine and Callie definitely deserve anything we can possible give them.”

Any tears for the duration of the evening were happy ones. Olivia Burgess delivered a hat trick and senior classmate Meagan Wilkinson scored twice in Scott County's 6-0 win. That outburst matched the largest margin of victory for the Lady Cards (6-7-4) in an up-and-down season that has also seen Burgess and other key offensive catalysts spend time on the injured list.

“It was definitely exciting to be playing with people we've played with for at least four years now,” Burgess, the team leader with eight goals, said. “It's something I know I'll always remember.”

Abby Herald added a goal and an assist for Scott County, which will be heavily favored against Bryan Station when they meet in the 42nd District quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Monday on Frederick Douglass' pitch.

Win, and the Lady Cards will take on face top-seeded Henry Clay, whom they fought to a 1-0 defeat little more than a week ago, in the semis.

“It gave us confidence that we are as good as Henry Clay,” Burgess said. “Them just beating us by one when last year it was 4-0 just shows that we can actually do it if we work together and we try hard enough. We can go pretty far this year.”

Emily Harbison made five saves to backstop Scott County's sixth shutout of the season. East Jessamine's Marissa Perez matched her zero for zero until Wilkinson's straight-on strike from 25 yards broke the spell with 9:15 remaining in the first half.

Burgess began her onslaught by popping in her own rebound with four seconds remaining before intermission.

“Once our nerves went down, it was good,” Wilkinson said. “We were kind of a little shaky at first.”

Wilkinson set up Burgess' second score with 26 minutes remaining, then buried a cross from Jordan Hill for her own encore tally.

Herald joined the parade with 8:52 left, and Burgess completed her gem on a penalty kick at the 3:16 mark.

SC scored almost half its 30 goals on the season between this game and a prior 8-2 victory over Bryan Station.

“Our defense has been absolutely phenomenal compared to last year. On the front end of the ball, we haven't been able to put it in, so it will be nice to have two games where goal scoring should be high,” McKelway said. “But at the same time, when you play the tougher teams, the opportunities to get those goals aren't going to be as frequent, so you have to be able to execute.”

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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