For The Daily Reporter
SHELBYVILLE — The clock struck midnight on the Mt. Vernon Marauders girls’ soccer team Saturday as their Cinderella season came to a close in the Shelbyville Regional final against Center Grove 1-0 in overtime.
However, the Marauders didn’t fall without a fight, holding the 13th-ranked Trojans to 11 shots on goal and making them work for every opportunity.
“Their effort was all there, and I thought we just battled them all day long,” Mt. Vernon coach Steve Williams said. “We had some times where we could have played a little smarter but honestly I couldn’t be prouder of our effort.”
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Williams also mentioned the difficult road his team had to face just to make it to the next level.
“We needed to beat two ranked teams to make it to semistate and here we are unranked,” he continued. “I don’t think anyone expected us to take Center Grove to overtime but on the other hand I think we were as good as they were.”
The Marauders tried desperately to get their young scorers involved but were held to just four shots on goal and four corner kick chances all match long.
Freshman Alexi Hardi led the team with two shots and sophomores Morgan Scruggs and Nicole Ratts each had one. Their shots were on point and made the Trojans freshman goalkeeper work, but they were few and far between.
The lack of chances was due large in part to the physical play by both teams. The Marauders appeared smaller than the Trojans and had to struggle through a sometimes overly-aggressive defense.
A total of three yellow cards were handed out during the course of the match, with Center Grove coach Mike Bishop given one at 17:03 in the second half. A red card was dealt to Center Grove senior Sophie Chiado with only 53 second remaining in the second extra time period.
With so little scoring opportunities, the Marauders were kept in the match by their seniors on defense, most notably goalkeeper Avery Haines.
She dealt with wave after wave of Trojan attackers and was a strength in the Marauders defense while fending them off. Twice she had to make a difficult play on the ball with a striker charging and sacrificed her body to keep the Marauders in the game.
“There’s nothing in this game that she can hang her head about,” Williams remarked. “She played a great game and made every save that she could make.”
Haines finished the match with 10 saves, for a total of 93 on the year, and was backed by a stellar defensive unit led by Blaire Viehweg, Madison McClain and Emily McNab.
The trio, along with Carrie Hannermann coming off the bench, denied the Trojan attackers from getting wide-open shots at the goal. Their play all season long helped hold opponents to an average of 2.2 goals a match.
“These seniors wanted this game, they played like they wanted it,” he continued. “We didn’t come here just to show up.”
The Marauders will miss their eight seniors that played a pivotal role this season, but they will have nearly 89 percent of their scorers back next year. Along with Hardi, Scruggs and Ratts, they’ll bring back Cleo Mills and Alaina Nelson, who each scored 13 and 11 goals this season, respectively.
“We’ve got 71 goals coming back,” Williams stated. “We knew we could get this team through this year, but we’ve just got so much young talent coming in.
“We wanted to win this one but I feel really good about the future, and it’s these kids that played today that helped build that future.”