Hopkinsville coach Tyler Stallons has been involved in quite a few district contests during his career as both a player and as a coach and he knows what it takes to win.
During Hoptown's win over Christian County, he said they were sluggish at times because the players expected to down the Cols by several goals, but that wasn't the case in the Tigers' 2-1 win Wednesday over the Blazers at University Heights Academy.
"I knew this one was going to be a little bit more of a battle," he said. "We played well in the first half and we were not the same team in the second half. They had more intensity, they were winning the 50-50s, we looked fatigued. They looked ready to go. They had us on our heels in the second half, that's all there is to it."
Mason Marschand struck first with 28:00 left in the first half and that set the tone for the Tigers. Jose Favela would add a goal a few minutes later to give Hoptown a 2-0 lead going into halftime.
"We kept the ball, we moved the ball and created chances," Stallons said of his team's effort in the first half.
But in the second half, it was a different story and the momentum shifted to the home team.
Midway through the half, Will Bryan scored but the official called obstruction and the goal was taken off the board.
A few minutes later, Bryan made sure it was a good goal as he took Tanner Thomas' pass and buried it to cut the deficit to 2-1 with 12:00 left.
"We couldn't string three or four passes together," Stallons said of the second half. "It got a little more physical, it got a little more chippy. Some weird calls but our boys kept their head and I'm not sure how long we played but if felt like 50 minutes. We just use it as practice. It's good, I'd rather us find a way to hold a team off because we're going to need that."
What should have only been a few minutes of stoppage time, turned into more as both UHA was still trying to score the equalizer and Hoptown was trying to hold off the Blazers.
When the buzzer finally sounded, a few UHA players looked at their teammates and said wait for districts.
Stallons said Wednesday definitely had a postseason atmosphere.
"It had a regional feel, it had a district championship feel," he said. "Our boys need that. We found a way to win, it wasn't pretty. We're only going to be better if our district makes us better. I would rather have district matches and regional matches that push us than to come out here and beat Christian County or UHA by a large margin. That doesn't help us. Games like this keep us on our toes and we get stuff out of it. I think it's better for soccer in general and us."
Both teams are back on the pitch today at UHA heads to Christian County and Hopkinsville is on the road at Marshall County.
Hopkinsville 2, UHA 1
HHS 2 0--2
UHA 0 1--1
HHS: Mason Marschand (goal), Jose Favela (goal), Tyler Greenwell (assist); UHA: Will Bryan (goal), Tanner Thomas (assist)