By CHIP CIRILLO
MURFREESBORO — Houston’s Jenna Kemp scored twice on headers, ending Brentwood’s season with a 2-0 loss in a Class AAA semifinal on Thursday.
“They really excel on offense and they excel at moving the ball quickly up the field,” Lady Bruins coach Kersta Mello said. “They’re very, very dangerous both on the ground and in the air within the last 30 yards of anybody’s defensive third. Their ability to fly up the field is – even for our wonderful defenders – picking that up is sometimes hard.”
Kemp, a Memphis commit, gave Houston (23-0) at 1-0 lead when she headed one in from 6 yards out on a cross from Madeline Eskin in the 21st minute.
Then the junior midfielder put the game away with another header from 5 yards out on a pass from Abbie Rushwin in the 70th minute.
“Mostly, we know to get in when balls are crossed so I saw her cross it so I just got in, and put the head on it,” said Kemp, who has scored about 18 goals this season.
Trailing 1-0, Brentwood (11-3) made a strong push in the second half, but couldn’t tie the game.
Houston will be seeking its eighth state title when it faces Collierville (17-4-1) in the championship at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Siegel Soccer Complex.
“A lot of our chances just went wide and that was really unfortunate, but sometimes that’s just how it goes,” Brentwood defender Addie Puskar said. “Their style of play is a lot of kickball and chase and run, so it was hard for us to get it on the ground and find feet.”
Houston outshot Brentwood 12-6.
Brentwood overcame numerous injuries en route to a final-four finish.
“We’ve had to cancel four games because we didn’t have enough girls to play,” Brentwood defender Mandy Hamm said. ‘Every single player on our bench has stepped up and become a big part of the team and I think that was great how we ended it with everyone contributing.”
The Lady Bruins suffered at least eight injuries.
“Ánkles, concussions, three ACLs, multiple knees,” Puskar said. “At some point, we probably had four starters out.”
Houston played a fast-pace, high-pressure style.
“I don’t think that they’d seen that much high pressure,” Houston coach David Wolff said.
Houston defender Cara Young is an LSU commit.