FORTVILLE — With the start of a new high school sports season just weeks away, Mt. Vernon’s boys soccer team — like most area programs — has spent the remaining weeks of summer fine-tuning its game.
Most recently, over the weekend, the Marauders took part in the Sporting Indiana High School Showcase at the McCordsville Sports Park with 12 other teams. Mt. Vernon, which finished 16-3-1 last season and earned a sectional title, finished 2-1 against stiff competition.
It was the 14th annual running of the event.
With 10 seniors returning, Marauders head coach Matt Mayhew has plenty of reason for excitement, and those same veterans performed well Saturday and Sunday.
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In a round-robin style tournament, Mt. Vernon topped Terre Haute North 4-3 on Saturday with senior Carson Jones securing a hat trick. Jones led the Marauders with 16 goals in 2015.
After the win against Terre Haute, Mt. Vernon fell to Jasper 3-0 on Saturday — without two key starters — then handled Oldenburg Academy, 2-0, on Sunday.
Jones and junior Timmy Clone, the team’s second-leading scorer (11 goals) last season, each found the net.
“We came out a little flat against Jasper in the heat,” Mayhew said, who has been in charge of the tournament for the past four seasons.
“We just couldn’t find the back of the net. On Sunday, we came out and did a lot of good stuff on offense. And Josh Powell made some great saves in goal.
“Overall, it was a pretty strong weekend.”
Powell, in his first season starting in goal, was named Daily Reporter Boys Soccer Player of the Year as a junior. He collected 204 saves and allowed just 14 goals. Even more impressive, the lanky, 6-foot-1 Powell totaled 11 shutouts and averaged over 10 saves per contest.
“We did well as a unit, but we definitely saw some things we need to improve on,” Powell said of his team’s play over the weekend. “I know I have several things that I need to tweak and correct individually before we really get into the meat of the season.
“We have a lot of new pieces to our puzzle, and I’m excited to see how they can fit in.”
Mt. Vernon lost five players to graduation last season, although deep freshman and sophomore classes gives Mayhew building blocks once the 2016 class says farewell.
They performed well at the tournament last weekend, too, as the junior varsity program finished 2-0 with wins over Terre Haute North and Hamilton Heights.
“If I didn’t have 10 seniors in front of them, some (underclassmen) would definitely get some looks (for varsity),” Mayhew said. “But it is going to be a very competitive season for them as well.”
Hamilton Heights, Rochester, Pendleton Heights, Evansville North, Concord, Summit County (Ohio), Merrillville and Delta were also in attendance at the showcase.
Mt. Vernon finished at 6-1 with New Palestine in the Hoosier Heritage Conference standings last season.
However, the Hancock County coaching landscape will look a little different this season as both the Dragons and the Greenfield-Central Cougars will have new boys’ soccer coaches.
Justin Sass, a former Division-I player, takes over New Palestine while Matt McConnell will coach Greenfield-Central. Both were assistants on their respective squads last season.