GREENFIELD — One goal wasn’t enough. If anything, it increased the tension even more on Thursday night. Not that it lacked any from the start.
The Mt. Vernon Marauders grabbed a 1-0 lead off a put-back goal by sophomore Logan Angelopulos nine minutes into their match with rival Greenfield-Central.
However, it seemed as if the game was scoreless until the final five minutes when the Marauders broke through with two more goals in two minutes en route to a 3-0 win.
“It took some pressure off, but it lit their fire, too,” Mt. Vernon head coach Matt Mayhew remarked on the rivalry between the two dueling Hoosier Heritage Conference teams. “It was another good game between us. The 3-0 score wasn’t indicative of what that game was. They had a lot of the possession, and we were able to capitalize.”
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The unbeaten Marauders (7-0, 5-0 HHC) earned some payback in the process, shutting out the Cougars (5-3-1, 1-1 HHC), the same team that ended their 2016 run in the sectional finals via a shootout.
The play was physical throughout, an expectation said Greenfield-Central head coach Bobby Holden, but a clean aggression. Four yellow cards were issued and more than 40 calls were whistled, which kept the game tight between goals.
“Greenfield is a very good team. At some points we got a little worried with so many fouls, but the team stayed strong and played the game we needed to,” Angelopulos said.
The Marauders game was powered by patience and defense. Goalkeeper Jenner York, a first-year varsity starter, secured six saves, with several diving tips as Greenfield-Central fired 18 shots compared to Mt. Vernon’s 10.
Jenner posted his fourth shutout on the season and has allowed only five goals in 518 minutes. One of his biggest swats came in the match’s 55th minute as he finger tipped a shot on goal by Zach Bell, who entered with six goals on the season.
The Cougars had their chances as well, with a potential goal sailing wide right with 25:51 left in regulation and a shot drawing post with 20:41 during a breakaway attack.
“I felt we were pushing. Mt. Vernon was just solid tonight all the way around. Their defense, goalkeeper and forwards were relentless and put pressure on us. They really showed up tonight,” Holden said.
HHC champions a year ago, the Marauders’ performance against the Cougars was a microcosm of their unexpected run at another potential outright title. They’re doing it without much of their experience from the past.
“I only have four seniors that are playing, so I’m relying on a lot of youth. Sophomores and juniors that didn’t see a lot of the field last year on the varsity level,” Mayhew said.
“Everyone told me, we were going to take our bumps and bruises when you graduate 10, an all-state keeper (Josh Powell) who is playing in college, my whole back line, and two-thirds of my goals. We knew we would competitive, but for the youngsters to show up how they have, it’s really exciting.”
Two of them put the game away for the Marauders. Bradley Turner, a junior played an assist from Drew Heitman, a sophomore, to put the Marauders up 2-0 with 5:07 remaining.
Two minutes later, junior Tylin Broaders made a move past a defender to line in a left-footed goal into the net for a 3-0 lead.
“We talked about coming together as a group and they showed it,” Mayhew said. “It’s about these boys growing together as a group and believing in each other. It was a great team win.”
The Marauders need two more wins against Shelbyville (5-3, 1-0 HHC) on Sept. 12 and Pendleton Heights (3-5-1, 0-1 HHC) on Sept. 21 to seize the HHC title.
“Over the summer we really worked on team building and what JV players needed to do to fill those spots, and I think they’ve really stepped up to it,” Angelopulos said. “Tonight, we switched up our formation a little bit to try to stop Zach (Bell) in the middle, which I think worked out really well.”
The Cougars were averaging 3.8 goals per match compared to Mt. Vernon’s 4.8, entering the showdown.
“It’s extremely disappointing. We have some of the best attacking players in the conference, in my opinion. For us not to score a goal is extremely disappointing,” Holden said. “For us to give up three goals is extremely disappointing. Overall, it was a disappointing night for our boys. We’re not happy with it, and I wouldn’t expect anyone would be.”
Mt. Vernon 3, Greenfield-Central 0
MV (7-0, 5-0 HHC);1;2;—;3
GC (5-2-1, 1-1 HHC);0;0;—;0
Goals: Logan Angelopulos, Bradley Turner, Tylin Broaders (MV)
Assists: Jacob Knepper, Drew Heitman (MV)
Saves: Jenner York 6 (MV); Noah Hughes 6 (GC)
Cards: YC – Tyler Murphy (GC); J. Knepper, D. Heitman, Caleb Vaughan (MV).