GREENFIELD — The monkey is finally off Mt. Vernon’s back.
After being eliminated by New Palestine in sectional play last season and losing to the Dragons in a shootout earlier this year, the Marauders boys soccer team can let out a sigh of relief — and a few cheers.
With two goals in the opening half against New Palestine on Saturday in the Sectional 23 final, the Marauders claimed their first sectional title since 2012, dethroning the defending champion Dragons 3-0.
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Senior midfielder Luke Yeadon paced Mt. Vernon through the middle of the field and finished with a goal and an assist.
“It just feels good, we haven’t won a sectional since my freshman year, and it feels good to contribute to it,” Yeadon said. “I thought we would need a big game to win and we were up to it. It was a total team effort, and everyone did what they were supposed to.”
Defense had been the staple for New Palestine (12-5-1) all season, but the Marauders took advantage of crisp passing near the goal — something the Dragons have not allowed this year — while junior keeper Josh Powell (eight saves) recorded his ninth shutout.
Two first-half scores within five minutes of each other proved too much for New Palestine.
Twenty minutes in, Yeadon worked his way up the middle through multiple Dragons defenders and dropped a pass for junior forward Carson Jones on the left side of goal that flipped up past goalkeeper Erik Silvey. The ball eventually found Jones’ head for Mt. Vernon’s first score and a 1-0 lead.
With 15:38 left before the half, the Marauders added a dagger as Jones found forward Timmy Clone all alone in front of goal for a nice assist and score.
“It’s the chemistry that they have, that front line,” first-year head coach Matt Mayhew said. “It’s just amazing how they (the team) work together and believe in one another.
“It’s all about that next guy stepping up. They just kept working.”
Jones finished with three goals in sectional play and leads the team with 15 scores this season. Clone and Yeadon have 11 and nine goals, respectively.
Yeadon found space on the left side of goal with 18:29 remaining in the contest and fired a close range shot for Mt. Vernon’s final score.
“We came out super flat,” New Palestine head coach Jeff Burger said. “I think it was more emotional but it showed. We did things we haven’t done all year. We’ve only had two games where we’ve allowed more than a goal.”
The Marauders will return home to host the regional Thursday with Franklin Central, No. 7 Center Grove and Perry Meridian all scheduled to visit.
Franklin Central and Center Grove will play at 5 p.m. followed by Mt. Vernon and Perry Meridian at approximately 7 p.m.
Perry Meridian (9-6-2) needed penalty kicks to defeat Southport and Roncalli to claim their sectional crown.
Center Grove is 16-2-1 and one of the state’s top teams. The Trojans beat Whiteland 5-0 in their sectional final.
Franklin Central brings the only losing record into regional play at 7-9-1 and beat Indianapolis Arsenal Tech in a shootout in its sectional championship match.
“It’s a very competitive regional,” Mayhew said. “There’s a lot of good teams, good thing for us we’re at home. We haven’t won a regional in a long time. That’s our home field, and we have to protect it.”