FORTVILLE — Following an intense shootout victory by Mt. Vernon over the New Palestine Dragons, this can be reported: the rivalry is as strong as ever.
Despite both teams graduating more than 10 players from their respective 2016 editions, the newcomers battled and put on a show Tuesday night.
Mt. Vernon, who is now 5-0 and 3-0 in the Hoosier Heritage Conference, won with a 6-5 penalty-kick tiebreaker after the match stood deadlocked 2-2 following regulation and overtime.
“We both graduated so many players,” Mt. Vernon coach Matt Mayhew said. “It’s just great to see the intensity from both of these teams in this game.”
The Marauders came out with plenty of energy as the trio of Tylin Broaders, Logan Angelopulos and Drew Heitman carved out acres of space along their left flank.
Three minutes into the game, Broaders intercepted a pass in midfield, passed it to Angelopulos, who crossed it to Heitman as he slotted it home into a wide open net for an early 1-0 Marauders lead.
That advantage would remain until early in the second half when Conner Kelly of New Palestine boomed in a shot from the edge of the box to tie it at 1-1.
The Dragons would need to tie the game again after a Mt. Vernon penalty kick was scored by Timmy Clone, and Buzz Wells provided the equalizer off a corner kick with 22:30 remaining.
“I thought we came out with a lot of fight in the second half,” New Palestine coach Justin Sass said somberly afterwards.
For the final ten minutes of regulation, the Marauders looked strong, but Dragons goalkeeper, junior Adam Hunt, kept the game tied as he made numerous diving stops off curling and dipping Marauders’ shots.
“Hunt is really the backbone of our team,” Sass said. “It’s getting to the point where we just expect him to make those big saves, and he hasn’t let us down yet.”
After a goalless overtime period, the game went to a penalty-kick shootout. Eight penalty kickers stepped up for each team, but Mt. Vernon won 6-5 after senior defender Braxton Beaty sent Hunt the wrong way and slotted home the winning kick. With the loss, the Dragons fall to 3-3 and 1-1 in the HHC.
“I’m excited we’ve started 5-0, but we need to work on building some consistency throughout each game,” Mayhew said. “Last year we gave up goals to New Pal on set pieces as well, so I’ve got to get better figuring out those, but I couldn’t be more proud of how this group has started the year.”
Mt. Vernon 3, New Palestine 2 (6-5 in shootout)
NPHS (3-3, 1-1 HHC) ;0;2;0;0;(5);—;3
MVHS (5-0, 3-0 HHC) ;1;1;0;0;(6);—;2
Shootout Results (MV wins 6-5)
NP Jon Moore MAKE; MV Drew Heitman MAKE 1-1
NP Buzz Wells MAKE; MV Tylin Boarders MISS 2-1
NP Jacob Long MISS; MV Brandon Johnson SAVE 2-1
NP Holton Gwaltney MAKE; MV Logan Angelopulos MAKE 3-2
NP Luke Gohmann MISS; MV Michael McKeeman MAKE 3-3
NP Zach Martin MAKE; MV Jacob Knepper MAKE 4-4
NP Tommy Niemier MAKE; MV Jonathan Hanson MAKE 5-5
NP Carson Sams MISS; MV Braxton Beaty MAKE 6-5