FORTVILLE — With both teams averaging approximately five goals per contest, Thursday’s county and conference battle between Mt. Vernon and Greenfield-Central — on paper — would appear to come down to defense.
In the end, Mt. Vernon’s veterans answered the call on both ends of the field to help the Marauders earn a 2-1 win against the Cougars.
Marauders senior Carson Jones scored his 10th goal of the season just before halftime, and classmate Jarret Whitehouse added the finishing touches after an early Greenfield-Central score in the second half to keep his team unbeaten in conference play.
With the win, the Marauders realistically control their own destiny in the Hoosier Heritage Conference standings and takes a considerable lead at 4-0. Greenfield-Central moves to 1-1.
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New Palestine is 2-0 in league play but no other conference team has earned a win in HHC play — as of Thursday night.
Mt. Vernon (6-1) senior keeper Josh Powell held strong in goal and finished with seven saves, six coming in the second half.
Greenfield-Central (4-1-1) tied the game at 1-all with 35:21 remaining in the second half after a handball in the box from Mt. Vernon. Senior Luke Tuttle took the penalty kick and launched the ball up the middle past a diving Powell for his fourth goal of the season.
The Marauders would answer right back, though, two minutes later when Whitehouse added his 11th goal on the year after finding light on the left side of goal.
Each team worked the ball around well in the first half with quality control and possession. However, with each nice run came a line of defense. And those lines held strong in the opening half despite opportune chances for each squad.
Greenfield-Central had one just three minutes into the game after Cougars’ leading scorer, junior Braiden Sticka, was fouled outside the right side of the 18-yard line. Junior Brandon Murphy’s shot would sail wide right on the ensuing free kick to keep the visitors off the scoreboard.
Greenfield-Central junior Clay Kelley also had a solid run on the right side just seconds into the game but was stopped by Marauders keeper Josh Powell with a sliding save.
Mt. Vernon nearly capitalized on an opportunity with 26:34 left in the first half, as well. Jones found Whitehouse all alone for a brief second in front of goal but Cougars’ junior keeper Noah Hughes used solid positioning to keep the score locked at zero.
Jones would score just before half, though, as Mt. Vernon slowly began to take control of possession. Junior Timmy Clone would cross the ball from the left side of the field to the ride side of the net, where a scramble left Jones just enough time to squeak a ball past Hughes for a 1-0 lead.
Mt. Vernon finished with 13 shots on goal in the first half, while Greenfield-Central had seven.
Hughes, who left the game after an injury midway through the second half, made six saves in the opening half and finished with eight for the game. Senior Jack Sifferlen replaced Hughes with 23 minutes remaining in the game.
Greenfield-Central returns to action on Saturday at home against Heritage Christian while Mt. Vernon hosts Lawrence Central on Saturday.
Greenfield-Central 1, Mt. Vernon 2
GCHS;(4-1-1, 1-1 HHC);0;1; -;1
MVHS;(6-1, 4-0 HHC);1;1; -;2
GC – Hughes eight saves, Tuttle goal (PK).
MV – Jones goal, Clone assist, Whitehouse goal, Powell seven saves.