Two players handled all the scoring Heritage's soccer teams needed Friday in a pair of mid-season region wins. For the boys, it was senior Austin Kulp notching his first-career varsity hat trick in the Patriots' 3-2 win over Apalachee while freshman Emily Kimpling was responsible for both of the girls' goals in their 2-0 shutout.
Girls: Heritage 2, Apalachee 0
The girls started the evening by taking control of their match midway through the opening half on Kimpling's first goal then played solid defense in the final 40 minutes to preserve the shutout and move to 5-0 in the region
"It's always nice to win a region game," girls' coach Chad Suddeth said. "These are always an emphasis. These are the ones that count -- that get us seated for the region tournament and ultimately count. All that other stuff is glorified scrimmages."
While Kimpling did her thing on offense, Mady Carter had a solid night in the box with the cleansheet and the Lady Patriots remained atop the region standings with a handful of matches left before the region tournament.
"You experiment with some things and get reserves playing time in those other games but this was business tonight," Suddeth said. "We came here to play tonight. We were a little bit sloppy than we have been but I was really pleased."
About the only thing the Lady Patriots didn't do was cash in on several other scoring opportunities. Minor grievances for considering the Lady Patriots control their own destiny for the region championship.
"I thought we left a few goals out there that we should have converted and if we don't, it's going to come back and hurt us," Suddeth said. "But we did enough and the defense did a great job. They had their hands full so that zero looks really nice.
Boys: Heritage 3, Apalachee 2
In the nightcap, it was a story of you score, then we'll score and came down to which team could hold off the other late. Neither team could muster much of anything until Apalachee broke through with 4:46 left in the first half to take a 1-0 lead. A little more than two minutes later, Kulp scored the equalizer to knot the game up at halftime.
The second half went much the same way until the 10:50 mark when Apalachee again took control of the match with a goal to go ahead 2-1. Much like they did in the first half, Heritage responded with Kulp's second goal to tie it with 9:25 to play.
"We gave up a bad goal but we responded. That's been the story of our season. It's been up and down," boys' coach Brandon Stewart said. "With youth it's hard to concentrate. However, they have an extra notch and they turned it up and got two goals when we needed it."
Having already pulled out a region win in penalty kicks last week, the Patriots looked destine for the same scenario to play out until Kulp struck again less than a minute later to put Heritage up 3-2 with 8:44 to play.
"We figured out how to gut out a win today and I'm glad we didn't need to go to PKs," Stewart said. "They owned it in the second half. We've grown since even Tuesday and didn't have to go to penalty kicks so I'm pleased with that."
From there, the Patriots did enough on defense to pick up its third region win and in the middle of the pack as the season swings into its second half. However, Stewart noted the slow starts could become a problem if they don't sort it out.
"We need to raise the intensity from the very beginning," Stewart said. "When you play reactionary, you're having to respond all the time. If we can come out with that type of intensity in the beginning, we can control the game."