By BRAD KEITH
KENNEDALE – SMU signee Ali Thorton and the lighting quick Kennedale Lady Cats reminded everyone in attendance at Wildcat Stadium Friday why they are still the team to beat in Region I-4A.
They appear to still be the team to beat in all of 4A, too, after Thorton’s first-half hat trick fueled a 7-1 rout of Stephenville, eliminating the Honeybees and pushing the defending state champion and top-ranked Lady Kats into the regional final against Abilene Wylie at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Thornton actually finished the scoring, as well, completing her day with four goals and an assist for Kennedale. She had two headers in the first half, scoring them moments apart with the last making it 4-1 with 15 seconds left in the first half.
Before the consecutive Thornton headers, Stephenville had appeared to find its way back in the game. Skylar Chipman put a header into the net off a perfect cross from Bayleigh Chaviers. It proved to be the final scoring connection between the senior stars who have contributed as much as anyone to Stephenville’s back-to-back regional tournament and “Sweet 16” appearances.
Kennedale finished with 32 shot attempts to six by the Bees. The Lady Cats put 21 shots on target and Stephenville keeper Jordyn Howle made 14 saves, some of them quite impressive including a lunging effort to stab one away in the first half.
Emily McIntyre, Bailey Crowley and Cara Hunt had the remaining goals for Kennedale.
Chipman’s goal was one of just two shots by Stephenville that was on target. Chaviers had the oher, forcing the Kennedale keeper make her first and only save in the 79th minute.
Kennedale’s domination is especially impressive considering they did what Stephenville had done to each playoff opponent leading up to the regional. The Honeybees outscored Bridgeport, Pampa and Brownwood by a combined tally of 11-0.
The other semifinal featured a 2-0 Wylie win over Melissa. Wylie star Randie Dennison scored two goals, giving her 13 in four playoff matches.