GREENFIELD — A game featuring two county rivals at the top of the Hoosier Heritage Conference standings lived up to the hype Thursday as Mt. Vernon’s boys soccer team handed Greenfield-Central its first conference loss of the season in a physical match at Cougar Field.
The Marauders claimed a tie for first place in the HHC standings with a 1-0 victory against the Cougars.
Mt. Vernon senior Luke Yeadon provided the only score with 17:18 remaining in the first half to earn the win.
Mt. Vernon’s only loss of the season came to the other HHC leader, New Palestine (3-0 HHC), on Sept. 1, in a 4-3 shootout loss after a 1-1 regulation tie. The Marauders are now 9-1 (4-1 HHC).
“It was a total team effort,” head coach Matt Mayhew said. “First half, I thought Greenfield had more run of the play. We got a goal in which helped us pick up momentum.
“Hats off to Greenfield, they are a great team. It was just another one of those good Mt. Vernon-Greenfield rivalry games.”
According Mayhew, the fact that the Marauders have played more games than the Dragons factors into the first-place conference tie.
The Cougars (4-3-1, 2-1 HHC) came out charging Thursday, though, with two corners within two minutes into the game.
Sophomore Braiden Sticka recorded the first shot just seconds later off a crafty pass from senior Enrique Ferrara that sailed wide left of Mt. Vernon keeper Josh Powell, who now has seven shutouts this season.
“Our defense has been strong all season,” Mayhew said. “We’ve only given up three goals all year in 10 games. We bend a little bit, but we don’t break.”
Sticka came close again with 25 minutes left in the opening half, but Powell beat him to a through ball at the top of the keeper’s box. That would be the trend in the first 40 minutes as each team would repeatedly come up short.
However, Yeadon broke the silence with his sixth goal of the season on the left side 18-yard line that went under Cougars’ senior keeper Eli Diehr and clipped the inside post to give Mt. Vernon a 1-0 lead with 17:18 remaining in the first half.
Junior Jarret Whitehouse nearly made it 2-0 with a free kick from approximately 12 yards out as the half winded down, but it missed the left post by inches and the Marauders went into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
Powell tallied three saves in the first half as Diehr collected two.
Mt. Vernon was the aggressor in the second half as Greenfield-Central struggled to keep possession. Diehr’s biggest threat came at the 18-minute mark, when a Marauders’ corner nearly found net.
Another Mt. Vernon corner with 16:22 left in the game met Diehr at the top post as the senior collected his fifth save of the game.
Minutes later, sophomore Brandon Murphy made Powell sweat with a bomb from 25 yards out that sailed inches over the top post, nearly equalizing the game with 14 minutes to play.
But that would be it for the Cougars, who could not squeeze a goal past Powell, who finished with seven saves.
“He works all year around,” Mayhew said of his keeper. “He wants it. He’s one of the heart and souls of this team.”
Diehr finished with seven saves, as well.
In JV action, Mt. Vernon won 2-1 with sophomore Ben Wallace registering the game-winning score. Cougars’ junior Josh Olin scored the lone goal for Greenfield-Central.