GREENFIELD — When New Palestine ended Mt. Vernon’s season last year in the opening round of sectional play, 5-1, Marauders head coach Matt Mayhew knew a few changes were in order.
After moving junior Josh Powell to goal and giving 2014 keeper, senior Luke Yeadon, a chance to play in the field, Mt. Vernon has enjoyed a tremendous turnaround, improving its record from 7-9 to 13-2-1 this season.
But the Marauders aren’t content just yet.
Story continues below gallery
With a 3-0 win against Shelbyville on Wednesday, the Marauders (13-3) will have a chance at redemption come Saturday when Mt. Vernon and New Palestine (12-4-1) will square off for the Sectional 23 title. The Dragons beat Greenfield-Central 5-4 in a sudden death overtime (penalty kicks) in the first semifinal Wednesday.
The Marauders were led by Carson Jones, who added a goal and an assist in the first half, en route to the win.
“It was a great first half,” Mayhew said. “We had some guys step up who don’t get a ton of minutes usually. That’s the way we’ve been all season, next man up.”
New Palestine used overtime Sept. 1 to edge the Marauders after a 1-1 regulation tie. The Dragons won the shootout 4-3 for its second straight win against its conference and county foe.
Mayhew, however, knows what his team needs to improve against the Dragons.
“We just have to be more calm,” he said. “It’s one of our biggest rivals. If we can settle down, the first game we weren’t connecting passes. (We) just need to find each others feet.”
The Marauders beat Shelbyville (8-9) 2-1 earlier this season and had little trouble doing it again Wednesday. Mt. Vernon drew first blood when Jones added his team-leading 14th goal of the season, giving the Marauders a 1-0 lead with just over 30 minutes left in the first half.
“Just his creativity when he’s around the ball (makes him good),” Mayhew said. “Carson (Jones) has a nose for being around the ball and getting the goal.”
Jones would find junior Jarret Whitehouse gliding through the middle one minute later to tack on Mt. Vernon’s second goal of the opening half. The Marauders held the Golden Bears scoreless, easily controlling possession to take a 2-0 lead into the intermission.
Powell recorded three saves by halftime, as did Shelbyville keeper Will England.
The second half would be a little less action packed, with both teams struggling to get much momentum in their favor. Sophomore forward Timmy Clone gave Mt. Vernon a commanding lead, however, with a goal (3-0) on the left side with just under 15 minutes left in the contest.
Powell, who was rarely challenged in the half, recorded his ninth shutout of the season.