Lynchburg-Clay junior Jade Massey is pictured during the state semifinal game against Cincinnati Country Day, Tuesday at Loveland High School. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
Lynchburg-Clay junior Jade Massey is pictured during the state semifinal game against Cincinnati Country Day, Tuesday at Loveland High School. (HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)
LOVELAND — The spectacular and historic soccer season of the 2022 Lynchburg-Clay Lady Mustangs ended Tuesday night in the Division III State Semifinals, falling to the Cincinnati Country Day School Nighthawks, 4-0 at Loveland High School. 

The Lady Mustangs — the only public school team who qualified for the state Final Four — were playing with a deficit for nearly the entire game as they trailed 2-0 within the first six minutes of the game, after the strong Nighthawks pressured early and scored two goals in the semifinal game. 

The first goal came with 35:54 on the clock in the first half off a kick by Cincinnati Country Day School’s Elizabeth Zimmerman. Less than a minute later, the pressure continued from the Nighthawks with a goal at the 34:14 mark by Sydney Bortz for the 2-0 lead, as that score stood at halftime. 

Zimmerman added another goal with 32:00 left in regulation for a 3-0 lead over the Lady Mustangs, and the final goal of the state semifinal game came with Bortz scoring a goal with 2:32 left on the clock for the four-goal advantage. 

“I thought we adjusted well,” Lynchburg-Clay head coach Dennis West said. “We made an adjustment in our formation, and we played well with them. That third goal was one where we just slipped up coverage, we didn't get a girl covered, and the fourth one, I'll have to look on the tape because I didn't get a good look at it.

“The first two, I told the girls, you've got to come out and expect them to be fast. And they are fast, and they're big. We adjusted, we just didn't get adjusted quickly enough to stop those first two.”

The loss sends LCHS to a final overall record of 20-2-1 overall, as they finish the year with a Southern Hills Athletic Conference record with a 7-0 record, a sectional championship, a district championship and a regional championship. They were only the second team in LCHS girls soccer history to play in the state semifinals. 

“It’s a good year for us,” West said. “I mean, our girls set a record for wins, and we played some pretty good competition.

“They came down and they played hard. I know they’re upset now, but they played hard this year and they played hard tonight. They just didn't get the results we wanted.”

In the first half, LCHS battled with the 2-0 deficit with saves by Allie Waits at the 25- and 22-minute marks of the opening half. Also on defense, with 14:57 on the clock, Ella Barber made a strong play defensively off a rebound.

Waits later had consecutive saves on the same sequence with a one-handed leaping save, and on the rebound, a two-handed save with 8:25 on the first-half clock. 

Jade Massey and Addie Downing both had shot opportunities, but solid defense by CCDS’s defense was on point and kept LCHS scoreless around the 6:00 mark of the first half. 

LC’s defense came up big again in the first half with a stop by Elizabeth Moberly with around 5:00 left on the scoreboard. 

The Nighthawks (formerly the Indians) also defeated the Lady Mustangs in their other trip to the state semifinals in 2016, also by a 4-0 score, and also on Nov. 8.

As for the Lady Mustangs this season, senior Kalyn Rich led the team with 35 goals, and she also led LCHS in assists with 19. Fellow senior Karlie Tipton (who scored two game-winning goals this postseason) scored 20 goals in ’22 while tallying 14 assists. Junior Jade Massey finished with 17 goals in ’22 with 12 assists. Sophomore keeper Allie Waits led the team with 85 saves this season.

“We had a couple girls really stepped up and played way better than they had in the past, on our defense,” West said. “Olivia [Van Fleet], for one, and our whole back line. Lainie Lunsford, this is for his first year playing soccer. She played volleyball first two years, and she's exceptional. When you plug her in with Trinity Van Fleet and Ella Barber back there on that back line, and put Olivia behind him, wow. That's a defense. This is the most goals they've given up all year to the best team we played all year, but that's exceptional.

“Addie Downing played her heart out this year, and tonight she was doing a really good job out there. Allie did an unbelievable job at goal. She’s just been a real surprise. She is just a really good athlete. She moves well, she anticipates shots well. She was a big, big plus for us. And then Kalyn playing, that's an addition big time. She's an exceptional player.

“I got an exceptional bunch of girls this year, just all of them,” West continued. “I probably had more fun coaching this group of girls than any that I can remember. They were just fun to be around. They get serious when they need to get serious, but boy they can have fun, too, and that makes them fun to be around and coach.”

CCDS was the No. 1 state-ranked team in the final coaches poll, and they haven’t allowed a goal the entire postseason, outscoring their six opponents, 33-0. For the entire season, CCDS has outscored their opponents 72-8, as they improve to 18-5-0 overall and return to the state finals for the first time since 2020, where they were state runners-up. Cincinnati Country Day School last won a state championship in 2019. 

Seniors for the LCHS Lady Mustangs are: Trinity Van Fleet, McKenna Roades, Ella Barber, Makenzie Morgan, Kalyn Rich, Karlie Tipton, Brooke Tatman, Elizabeth Moberly and Jenna Waits. 

“They came in as a group, except for Kalyn,” West said of the senior class. “This is her first year but the other eight, as far I can think right offhand, have been part of this program all four years. Some of them play more than others, but they've all been an important part of this, whether it's in practice, the games, whatever. They’ve just been an important part of our program and our culture there at the school with our soccer program.

“When they had the pep rally for us today out on the field, all those little kids are sitting there looking at them, from first and second grade on up to the high school kids. They’re looking and thinking well, maybe it's something I want to do. That's what we want. We want them to go out and be the face of our soccer program, because they've been successful.”

West thanked his assistant coaches, as longtime assistant Chris Tipton is stepping down after this season, while former Final Four player Shelby Chisman has also played a key role as an assistant this year.

“Shelby is so important that she's come back,” West said. “I said that last night to the community pep rally, having your former players come back and wanting to continue being a part of the program is huge.

“I know this is Chris's last year, and I can't say enough about that man. He was with me from the very start to the very end here this year of his coaching, and wow. He took a couple of years off when his daughters — both of whom went to Final Fours — were getting started, and other than that, he's been with me with the boys and with the girls. I can't say enough. His knowledge of the game is phenomenal. He just has a great sense for what's going on, on the field, adjustments that we can make.

“We will all miss him, and the program will miss him.”

West concluded by thanking the community for their ongoing support for the program, including the huge turnout at the state semifinal game Tuesday.

“I just wanted to thank our community, our school, the parents,” West said. “I think [Cincinnati Country Day] is 10 minutes away from here. We're an hour and getting from Hillsboro to Loveland, there’s no way to do it easily. And this is nothing unusual. Our parents and our fans, I don't know what word to describe it. They're just amazing how they follow us. And it's been that way for years and years, and name the sport, it’s pretty much it's always that way.

“Our people are just incredible. I just want to thank them for all the things they do because it means a lot. You turn around, win or lose, you got people there, backing you up and supporting you. It means great things for the program. The kids appreciate it, and I know I appreciate it.”