NEW PALESTINE — Twenty-one players for New Palestine and Greenfield-Central have scored at least one goal this season. However, all of them struggled to find the net Wednesday night — until the end.
With less than three minutes remaining in the game, Dragons’ junior Olivia McKilligin escaped on a breakaway — off an assist from freshman Jordan Reid — to score the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win against Greenfield-Central.
Eleven different Dragons entered the game with at least one goal this season while 10 different Cougars have done the same. It still took approximately 77 minutes for one to strike as McKilligin executed perfectly with 2:42 left on the clock to help New Palestine improve to 3-1 in the Hoosier Heritage Conference and 6-2-1 overall.
“We have been working with Olivia on executing those types of plays,” Dragons head coach Gina Fannin said. “She did it perfectly. It’s not easy with that much time on the clock in a game against Greenfield-Central with two defenders on your heels.”
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Mt. Vernon (5-0) and Pendleton Heights (4-0) remain at the top of the HHC standings. Greenfield-Central falls to 5-3-3 and 2-3 in conference play.
Reid nearly broke the scoreless streak with a deep ball from just outside the 18-yard line, which sailed over the top of goal with 16 minutes remaining in the second half. She leads the team with five goals and four assists this season.
“She is really fast and does a good job up top for us,” Fannin said.
Both teams came out aggressive offensively in the first half but failed to put any points on the board. New Palestine controlled possession early and nearly scored seven minutes into the game.
Senior Cassidy Willhelm came close to putting her third goal of the season into the back of the net off a Dragons’ corner kick. Volleying the ball off the front of her jersey and using a quick maneuver to her feet, Willhelm clipped the top of the cross bar in an impressive attempt.
Greenfield-Central got deep into the New Palestine defense under a minute later but failed to convert. Although the Cougars tallied four shots on goal in the opening half, they failed to get over the top of the Dragons defense.
Sophomore Lucy Brand gave Greenfield-Central a promising attempt on a free kick on the left side of the field, though, with 12 minutes remaining until halftime. Crossing the ball to the right side of goal, Brand just missed a Cougars player sprinting toward the net for a header.
“They have a lot of athletes and spread the ball out nice,” Fannin said.
Greenfield-Central keeper Kayla Enochs, a junior, finished with eight saves while New Palestine freshman Haley Weinreich collected nine.
Last season, the Dragons and Cougars split a pair of meetings. New Palestine avenged a 2-1 regular season loss in sectional play 1-0.
Both teams remain in HHC play for their next contests. Greenfield-Central returns to the field at home next Tuesday against New Castle while New Palestine will play at Delta on Saturday.
Greenfield-Central 0, New Palestine 1
GCHS;(5-3-3, 2-3 HHC);0;0;-;0
NPHS;(6-2-1, 3-1 HHC);0;1;-;1
GC – Kayla Enochs eight saves
NP – Olivia McKilligin goal, Jordan Reid assist, Haley Weinreich nine saves