FORTVILLE — For the first time in recent memory, both the Mt. Vernon girls and boys soccer teams will be competing for a regional title this week.
The Lady Marauders begin their quest today at the Shelbyville Regional with a matchup against Class 2A No. 18 Roncalli at 5 p.m.
The boys will host Perry Meridian tomorrow in the second semifinal at approximately 7 p.m. at Mt. Vernon.
Still riding the high of a last-minute sectional win over New Palestine last weekend, Mt. Vernon girls head coach Steve Williams said his team is anything but content. Despite the lifted competition, the Marauders (11-5-1) plan to do everything but “just show up.”
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However, Roncalli sports a regional-best 17-3 record.
“Roncalli is pretty good,” Williams said. “I know they are going to be a handful. But it took us 19 years to get here, let’s try and win this thing.”
Against one of the state’s top teams, Williams said playing at a faster speed would be crucial.
“We won’t change a whole lot,” he said. “We need to get the ball off our feet a little bit quicker. When the competition ramps up a little bit, you need to play faster. The teams are more athletic.
“It’s not a time to reinvent the wheel. We may have to bunker in (on defense) a little more than we would.”
A common opponent between the Marauders and Rebels this season was Warren Central. Roncalli beat Warren Central 3-2 while Mt. Vernon lost 2-1. According to Williams, though, the Marauders were missing a few key players in that game.
Nonetheless, no matter the outcome, the future looks good for Mt. Vernon girls soccer. The Marauders top-four scorers this season are either freshmen or sophomores.
“Getting the sectional behind them was like getting a monkey off their back,” Williams said. “Anything that happens now is icing on the cake. This is great experience for the young girls.”
Sophomore Morgan Scruggs leads the team with 19 goals while classmate Alaina Nelson has 10 goals and four assists. Sophomores Alexi Hardi (10 goals) and Nicole Ratts lead the team with 14 assists apiece as freshman Cleo Mills has contributed 13 goals of her own despite limited availability.
No. 13 Center Grove and Franklin Central will battle in the second contest Wednesday.
The regional championship will be at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Shelbyville.
Boys searching for seventh straight win
Coming off an impressive 3-0 sectional championship win against New Palestine, Mt. Vernon’s boys soccer team has its eye on another prize — and a seventh straight win.
However, a Perry Meridian squad with a misleading 9-6-2 record stands in their way.
The Falcons used two shootout wins in sectional play to advance to the regional. In the sectional championship, Perry Meridian, which appears to be peaking at the right time, won 9-8 in sudden death.
Both the Marauders and Falcons easily handled Beech Grove earlier this season, but the teams have no other common opponents.
“Whatever team shows up (will win), and my team is feeling pretty good right now,” Mt. Vernon head coach Matt Mayhew said. “They’re excited about the opportunity.”
The last time the Marauders played in a regional (2012), they were defeated in the championship match by Center Grove, 1-0. The Trojans (16-2-1) enter the regional this season ranked No. 7 in Class 2A and will face Franklin Central (7-9-1) is the first semifinal Thursday at 5 p.m.
“Center Grove is probably the favorite,” Mayhew said. “Watching their program over the last couple years, they’re very solid. They are quick.”
New Palestine, who Mt. Vernon beat 3-0 on Saturday in the Greenfield Sectional, lost 2-0 to Center Grove earlier this season, but lies as the only common foe for both teams. Franklin Central also beat the Dragons 2-0 this season.
“Franklin is competitive, as well,” Mayhew said. “It’s going to be about who’s hot and can put the ball in the back of the net. It’s going to be a tough battle for all the teams.”
The freshman from the 2012 regional team are now seniors and have hopes of putting their own story in the books. But as far as preparation this week, the Marauders are sticking to their guns, as well.
“Tonight (Monday) we just worked on our defense and some schemes,” Mayhew explained. “Just some things we saw in our sectional game (against New Palestine). We’re not really changing anything now, just doing the repetitive stuff we’ve doing all season.”
Junior keeper Josh Powell has recorded nine shutouts this season while junior forward Carson Jones leads the team with 15 goals. Junior midfielder Jarret Whitehouse has 12 assists to lead the team as senior midfielder Luke Yeadon has nine goals and five assists.
The regional championship will be Saturday at 7 p.m. at Mt. Vernon.
Girls Regional at Shelbyville
Game 1: Mt. Vernon vs. Roncalli, 5 p.m.
Game 2: Franklin Central vs. Center Grove, 7 p.m.
Regional Championship, 7 p.m.
Boys Regional at Mt. Vernon
Game 1: Center Grove vs. Franklin Central, 5 p.m.
Game 2: Perry Meridian vs. Mt. Vernon, 7 p.m.
Regional Championship, 7 p.m.