LEXINGTON — “David vs. Goliath” gets tossed around a lot in the sports world, but Bethlehem High School girls soccer coach Scott Deopere understandably couldn’t help himself after Saturday’s thrilling girls soccer championship match.
After all, his Bethlehem squad was making its first appearance in a state final against a Sacred Heart program with seven state championships.
The Banshees had fallen to the Valkyries, 4-1, earlier this season, but on Saturday night “David” won.
“I honestly can’t believe I’m sitting here talking about a state championship,” Deopere said.
Tessa Miles’ goal with 1:54 remaining capped a frantic final eight minutes as Bethlehem beat Sacred Heart, 4-3, in the state final at Lafayette.
Fifth-ranked Bethlehem (22-4-2) became only the second Class A school to win the girls soccer state championship, joining St. Henry (2010).
The seven combined goals were the most in a state final since the Kentucky High School Athletic Association first sanctioned girls soccer in 1992.
“I’ve been a part of a lot of sporting events, and that might be the best one I’ve ever seen,” Deopere said. “Just absolutely incredible. Ups and downs, highs and lows, emotional roller coasters. That’s the ultimate test of composure and perseverance.”
Carlie Thurmond scored twice in the first half to give Bethlehem a 2-0 lead, and the Banshees still led 2-1 with eight minutes remaining.
But No. 2 Sacred Heart (20-3-3) kept its composure and got goals from Mia Lancaster and Ava Birk in a 114-second span, the latter giving the Valkyries a 3-2 lead with 5:38 remaining.
Seemingly, order had been restored.
“With this group,” Deopere said, “it’s never over.”
Ashlyn Miles tied the score at 3 with 4:55 left before her sister, Tessa, fired one in from 25 yards for the game-winner three minutes later.
“One of my strengths is shooting from a distance,” Tessa Miles said. “With time running out, I knew we had to take advantage of that open shot. I let it rip. Thank Jesus it went in because we needed it so badly.”
It was a shocking finish for a Sacred Heart team that was undefeated (10-0-2) in its previous 12 matches and hadn’t allowed more than two goals in any match this season.
“I think we were overconfident,” Valkyries coach Shaun Francis said. “We didn’t start off working well, and it showed in the first half. They were more aggressive. They were first to every ball. We were sleeping. You have to credit them. They came out ready to play. …
“I’m proud of my girls. Just the way they fought back, it says something about them. Yeah, I know we didn’t win. But fighting back from 2-0 down and getting a 3-2 lead, I’m very proud of them.”
Thurmond, a three-sport star who has committed to play soccer at Morehead State, was named the tournament’s MVP.
Her second goal of the match was the 150th of her career.
“Just one of the best athletes — if not the best — to ever come through the school. Just a competitor and the most humble star you’ll ever meet. … To say she’ll be missed is an understatement,” Deopere said.
MVP – Carlie Thurmond (Bethlehem)
All-tournament team – Ashlyn Miles, Gracie Zutterman (Bethlehem); Ava Hendrick, Lilly Lund, Mary VonderHaar (Sacred Heart); Carlyn Tranter, Kimberly Woeste (Notre Dame); Payton Bugg, Maggie Gnann (Boyle County); Maggie Morris (Bowling Green); Ella Rison (South Laurel); Ava Quinn (Russell); Ashton Lynam (Henderson County)
More high school soccer: St. Xavier, behind Beckham Murrow’s goal, earns record 16th state championship
Reach Jason Frakes at email@example.com and follow him on X @kyhighs.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: KHSAA girls soccer: Bethlehem stuns Sacred Heart in state final