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Wildcats down Spring Hill to cap off emotional Senior Night

Andy Brown / Louisburg Sports Zone
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Louisburg players celebrate a 2-1 victory over Spring Hill last Thursday that ended their season with a 13-3 record and a No. 4 seed in the upcoming regional tournament.

The Louisburg girls soccer team has experienced an immense amount of success in the program’s short history.

However, the one team that has been a thorn in the side of the Wildcats has been Spring Hill. Louisburg has beaten Spring Hill just one time in its four years of existence and the Broncos have caused the Wildcats fits.

On Thursday, the Wildcats got rid of the thorn.

Louisburg ended its schedule on a high note as the Wildcats upset Spring Hill, 2-1, and gave their seniors a send-off to remember. The Wildcats honored their six seniors during a Senior Night ceremony after the game and it was a fitting way to wrap up the regular season with a 13-3 record.

“Everyone stepped up and did their job and played as hard as they could,” Louisburg coach Kyle Conley said. “When a team believes and plays for each other, this is what could happen. Spring Hill is the best team on our schedule, and for us to get a win on Senior Night, just doesn’t happen very often.”

Seniors Camdyn Clark, Kaitlyn Lewer, Carson Buffington, Julianne Finley, Hallie Hutsell and Leia Shaffer played in their final regular season home game for the Wildcats, and for most of them, they were the first group of players to play all four years with the program.

“Our seniors have done a great amount to put our program where it is today,” Conley said “This group of young ladies are exactly what our program looks create. They are all responsible, dependable, dedicated young ladies. They are fantastic young ladies not just on the soccer field, but in the classroom as well. I could not be prouder of this group.”

It was also special night for Clark, one of the team’s best defenders, as her season was cut short due to an injury she suffered earlier in the year and will be unable to play in the postseason. That didn’t stop her from suiting up for a few minutes and was taken out of the game one final time early in the first half.

“It was really nice to see Camdyn out there again,” Conley said. “She had a fantastic career for us and played her heart out each and every time she got on the field. She is a great young lady and leader.”

The Lady Cats’ defense was certainly tested all night as the Spring Hill attack kept pressure on the Louisburg back line, but they all passed the test – including goalie Carson Buffington.

Buffington turned away several Spring Hill opportunities as the Broncos had nearly 10 shots on goal and Buffington saved all but one opportunity. The Louisburg senior had a couple tip saves in the first half that kept the game scoreless at the time.

Louisburg goalie Carson Buffington dives in for a save last Thursday against Spring Hill.

Late in the second half, when the Wildcats had the lead, Buffington did much of the same and she also got some help from her defense. Avery O’Meara moved to the sweeper position due to an injury and cleared the ball away that was near the line and Kaitlyn Lewer also cleared away several Bronco attempts.

Seniors Hallie Hutsell and Julianne Finley, along with junior Skylar Bowman and sophomore Madison Quinn, provided a lot of help for the Wildcat defense.

“Our defense played amazing,” Buffington said. “They didn’t back down and they were so confident and played so well. I was very confident in that game and I really wanted to win and get revenge on Spring Hill. My teammates just made my job easier.”

Junior Mackenzie Scholtz broke open a scoreless game for the Wildcats midway through the first half as she took the ball down the left side, beat the Spring Hill goalie and put it in the open net for a 1-0 lead and it stayed that way at halftime.

Spring Hill tied it up early in the second half, but a few minutes later, the Wildcats struck again and this time it was thanks to the feet of Erin Lemke. The Louisburg junior had a breakaway opportunity and took advantage as she sailed it over the goalie’s head for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

Louisburg’s Emma Christy heads the ball away Thursday against Spring Hill.

“It was a hustle goal, just like Mack’s was to start the game,” Conley said. “We talk a lot about pressing up top and I think Spring Hill was struggling a little to adjust to the ball moving around in the mud. I told them to challenge everything in the middle. It was good to see the kids play so hard and it was a big goal for sure.”

Following the score, the Broncos increased the pressure even more as they had a few opportunities to tie it up, but the Wildcat defense and Buffington held on.

“We got up a goal and then we changed formations a little due to injuries and shore some things up in the middle,” Conley said. “We were a little helter skelter there in the second half, but about halfway through we got comfortable in that and you could see that the girls start to figure it out. Then we got a little tired toward the end and we had to just hold on.

“Spring Hill had plenty of good chances, but Carson made massive save after save. Avery saved one off the line and everyone was just all hands on deck. Carson did really well and was on her game. They tried to get her four or five times up top and Carson did a good job of covering it up and tipping it away. Normally those are goals for most people and she didn’t allow it. She was phenomenal.”

Following the game, it was a bittersweet feeling for the Wildcat seniors as they realized the end of their careers is near as postseason play begins later this week.

Louisburg seniors (from left) Hallie Hutsell, Camdyn Clark, Kaitlyn Lewer, Carson Buffington, Julianne Finley and Leia Shaffer were all honored on Senior Night last Thursday.

“Senior Night was very emotional and really sad,” Buffington said. “Knowing that this is my last Senior Night really got to me. I love my team so much and I don’t want the season to end.”

Louisburg earned the No. 4 seed in the regional tournament and earned a first-round bye. That sets up a match with Piper in the regional championship game at 5 p.m. on Thursday in Louisburg.

Piper defeated Louisburg, 2-0, earlier in the season and the Wildcats are hoping for some revenge, although they realize it won’t be easy. Piper, the No. 5 seed, defeated Tonganoxie, 6-0, on Tuesday.

“The regular season only matters for your seed and this is when the season actually starts,” Conley said. “Piper is a team that has already beat us, so we will have our hands full. We will prepare and play like we have something to prove.”

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