Even with a man down and a significant lack of substitutions, the young Caldwell County Tigers (4-10-1) gave Paducah Tilghman a first half duel before succumbing to injuries and cards in a 9-0 loss at Butler Stadium.
Honoring lone senior in goalie Josh Hagan in senior night in Princeton, the Tigers never needed him more than this night, but the senior goalie missed just his second game of the season due to a bruised hip injury. Reserve keeper Andrew Risley collected eight saves and allowed just two goals in the first half before being substituted for Weston Phelps (four saves) in the second half after Riley went down with a head injury.
"Josh is a big part of this team," first-year head coach Tanner Reed said. "He's been our senior, obviously. He's been in the goal for us and that's a very important position in this game. It's a position that you don't typically look for someone else. You have one guy and he's your guy, and if they go down, you're in the position we were in tonight. Andrew stepped up and tried to fill his shoes and was doing a pretty good job."
Through 13 games played this season, Hagan has collected a gaudy 131 keeper saves, averaging 10 saves per contest.
Paducah Tilghman (10-7-2) came in with the third best record in Region 1 behind Marshall County and McCracken County, but the Tigers still remained where no one thought they would be when the season began in August; smack dab in the middle of the Region 2 soccer standings.
Still, the Blue Tornado swept in and spoiled senior night with seven second half goals to take home their 10th win of the season as a well-played first half quickly turned sour for the Tigers.
Tilghman swooped in for a 1-0 lead early on via Jackson Mundy and with a deep squad, Tilghman eventually became the heavyweight, but Hugo Lopez kept pushing the pressure up top with multiple looks in the first 15 minutes to try and tie the game.
Risley was nearly tossed from the game with a red card, but it was changed to a yellow card after a collision outside the box in the opening minutes.
Haiden Ball came up with a significant defensive play before Tilghman could get a shot up in the 30th and Christian Jones added to some phenomenal defense to answer Tilghman's breakthrough free-kick to open up the match, but there was no answer for Mundy, who recorded a hat trick for the Blue Tornado with three goals on the night.
Blake Vivrette's first shot went just off the right post, but the Tigers kept the pressure with an ambush of different looks at the goal.
Mundy struck with a quick goal at the last minute to go up 2-0 at halftime as Riley was taken out for the rest of the game for Caldwell.
Caldwell County made the most of their looks, but Tilghman was simply in their offensive third more.
Phelps, just a freshman like so many of his teammates, did have some impressive moments in his first varsity goalie appearance, making his first save just 30 seconds into the second half. But Tilghman put this one away in the opening seven minutes of the second half with four goals.
Mundy had his hat trick when he made it 3-0 Tilghman from 15 feet out straight away in the 45th, and Jack Hutcheson laced one in a few minutes later as the Blue Tornado took a 4-0 stranglehold on the match in the absence of Hagan and Risley.
The defensive collapse continued as Ivan Aburto made it 5-0 Tilghman in the 49th.
Nolan Waller broke through in the 52nd at 6-0 Tilghman from short, and Tiger defensive specialist Ethan Weatherspoon had to turn up the turbos to keep the match from ending early.
Phelps made a powerful save right at the chest in the 62nd, but Axel Loaiza came in for more Tilghman insurance in the 67th At 7-0.
Lance Edmonds and Sam Whaelan also scored for Tilghman in the contest.
A rainbow shot from from 40 yards out made it 8-0 Tilghman in the 69th, and the Blue Tornado finished off a 9-0 win with a last punch just before time expired.
"We just have to work on us, work on our play," coach Reed said. "The last few games we kind of hit a lull and we're not exactly playing the nice soccer we were playing against Lyon County and Hopkins County Central a couple weeks ago. We've got to get back to that and take care of us."
Caldwell County would finish out the regular season at Russellville on Thursday night.
The Tigers lost 5-3, but did manage to score three goals in an offensively minded contest as the district tournament approaches.
Josh Hagan returned to score a goal via a PK, and Grayden Miller added two goals for the Tigers, who finished 4-11-1.
Avery Flener led the Panthers with two goals and two assists, while Dustin Brown added two goals for Russellville.