SHELBYVILLE — Joined by a new coach less than a month before the season began, the Greenfield-Central girls’ soccer team managed to win 11 games and a sectional championship.
With a full offseason together, the Cougars and coach Amanda Eid hope to enjoy more successful future regional results than they did Wednesday.
In the regional semifinals at Shelbyville, Warren Central dominated the action on the way to handing the Cougars a season-ending 4-1 loss.
Eid, a late summer hire, also suffered her first career loss to Warren Central; the Warriors beat the Cougars 3-1 in the regular season opener Aug. 13.
In between, G-C posted a 9-6 regular season and beat Shelbyville and New Palestine to win the program’s first sectional title since 2005.
Following Wednesday’s loss, Eid reminded the Cougars how much they accomplished.
“We talked about how I didn’t start with them before three weeks before the season,” she said. “Most teams start in January, which we’ll do with strength and conditioning and all that.
“They could be sad for a day or two, but they have to think big picture. I’m proud of everything they’ve done this season and they should be, too.”
The Cougars didn’t fall short against Warren Central because of a lack of effort; the No. 20-ranked Warriors (13-6-1) were simply the better squad, although G-C briefly held the lead.
Alli Frazier, G-C’s junior midfielder, was awarded a penalty kick following a Warren Central handball in the goalkeeper’s box, and Frazier’s attempt was saved by WC keeper Addie Runkel. But, the ball bounced off Runkel’s hands back into play, and the Cougars’ Sammie McCoy put the deflection into the net for a 1-0 Cougars lead with 33 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the first half.
The Warriors responded with an aggressive offensive attack that resulted in two first-half goals, the first off a penalty kick by Alessandra Fistrovich with 17:46 left before intermission and the other by Kaitlin Wells with 11:19 to go.
After the break, Fistrovich added a second goal with another handball-related penalty kick score with 16:47 remaining in the match, then Amelia Carney finished off the scoring for Warren Central at the 8:01 mark to make it 4-1.
“They’re fast, they’re really fast,” Eid said. “There’s not a lot you can do when a team is just flat out faster to the ball than you. It doesn’t matter how hard you try; they’re a good team.”
Warren Central, which out-shot the Cougars 12-3, advanced to Saturday’s championship to face the program that has the most regional titles in state history.
In the first semifinal Wednesday, No. 14-ranked Center Grove (13-4-2), which owns 13 regional trophies, defeated defending regional champ Perry Meridian (14-4) by a 3-1 tally.
Center Grove beat Warren Central 2-1 on Sept. 19. The regional winner will advance to the Evansville Harrison Semistate Oct. 20 against the winner of Bloomington South (14-5-2)-East Central (13-5-2) at the Jennings County Regional.
The Cougars figure to be a postseason contender again next year, losing only one starter — current senior goalkeeper Katie Peters — to graduation.
Among the key 2013 returnees are juniors Frazier, McCoy (a forward and Hancock County’s leading goal-scorer), forward Emily Koers (the team’s 2011 leading scorer), midfielder Abbey Schulz, midfielder Kylie Smith and defender Ginna Wood.
Sophomore Courtney Dunn was Peters’ backup in goal this season.
Despite the sadness that befell the Cougars’ post-game bench area Wednesday, they’ll be better off next year for the regional exposure.
“I think Warren has a lot more experience than we do,” Eid said. “We were a young team, inexperienced team. A lot of those girls had never played varsity before this year, so just experience is going to be huge for us I think.”