For The Daily Reporter
NEW PALESTINE — Playing in the second game of the night after watching it’s two county rivals contest a tight one-goal match, the Mt. Vernon girls soccer team did not want to get caught looking ahead toward the championship round Saturday.
Mt. Vernon took care of business, with a workmanlike effort, and defeated Shelbyville 5-1 in its opening round sectional match Tuesday.
“I thought we’d get out to a faster start and kind of cruise in the second half,” Mt. Vernon coach Steve Williams said afterward.
“But Shelbyville really came to play, and we had to keep pressing throughout the game.”
To begin the game, Mt. Vernon attacked Shelbyville down the left flank with Nicole Ratts and peppered Shelbyville’s goal with crosses, but Mt. Vernon was not able to connect. For the first twenty minutes, Shelbyville’s goalkeeper, Desiree Kuhn, looked like she might be able to keep Mt. Vernon off the score sheet.
However, it was an attack down the right flank that finally got Mt. Vernon on the board, as Tyller Leath found Morgan Scruggs in the penalty area who slotted home the goal.
Mt. Vernon took a 2-0 lead into halftime, as freshman forward Cleo Mills dribbled down the middle of the field as the last 10 seconds of the half ticked off, dribbled around the goalkeeper and scored as time expired.
With a small tactical change and some raised play from Morgan Scruggs, Mt. Vernon was able to put the game away midway through the second half.
“In the second half, we made sure our crosses weren’t right at their ‘keeper,” Williams stated.
Leading only 2-1 with 17 minutes remaining, Scruggs scored two goals and assisted on a third to teammate Alaina Nelson to put Mt. Vernon ahead 5-1 with 15 minutes remaining.
“Scruggs does really well in small areas of space,” Williams said. “And with (Cleo) Mills up top creating space, she is able to take advantage.”
With the victory, Mt. Vernon earned the right to face New Palestine in the sectional championship match for the third season in a row. The Dragons took the title in 2014.
“We’re not really going to change that much of what we do, and I doubt New Palestine will either,” Williams said while looking forward. “It’s really going to be about who wants it more, and man, I just hope we win it.”
1st 2nd Final
Mt. Vernon 2 3 5
Shelbyville 0 1 0