GREENFIELD — Mother Nature apparently wasn’t interested in witnessing the dramatic finish of Monday’s seesaw girls soccer battle between Greenfield-Central and Mt. Vernon.
It’s hard to imagine why.
The two Hoosier Heritage Conference foes battled desperately trying to wrestle control from the other in this first conference game of the season. But the allotted 80 minutes of regulation and a surplus 14 in overtime were not enough for either to do so. Instead, the 3-3 game would be decided by penalty kicks.
Except, it wouldn’t. At least not Monday.
No, those in attendance would not receive the much-deserved satisfaction of an outcome.
Lightning stopped the game five kicks into the penalty shootout (with the Marauders up 1-0 on three penalty kicks and the Cougars about to take their third), and G-C athletics director Jared Manning was forced to postpone the game when the weather radar showed the inclement weather was not going to let up.
The game will be resumed at 5:15 p.m. today.
“We’re going to come back tomorrow and practice PKs, and hope we can pull this one out,” Cougars coach Erin Clark said after she learning the game had been postponed. “We’re just going to try and get as ready as we can.”
Her team was more than ready for Monday’s action. The young Cougars found a way to keep up with the more experienced Marauders, despite the challenges faced by G-C’s self-described “short” goalkeeper.
Less than four minutes into the match, Mt. Vernon midfielder Natalie Givan sent what looked to be a harmless corner kick into the Cougars’ box.
The ball bounced once with no Marauders in sight and G-C keeper Courtney Dunn making an approach like she would any other save. Except she did not anticipate the magnitude of the bounce. The ball rebounded hard off of the ground, up over her outstretched hands and into the goal for a 1-0 Mt. Vernon lead.
“Sometimes it’s being too short, and other times it’s just mistiming my jumps, but yeah it’s tough not to be able to get those,” Dunn said.
The Cougars would respond, specifically Katie Helgason. The sophomore dribbled the ball down the right flank nearly half of the field, maneuvering past multiple Marauder defenders up to the goal on her way to a 3-yard equalizer.
With a little more than 10 minutes left in the first half, Mt. Vernon freshman Alaina Nelson’s shot from the middle of the 18-yard box was stuck just high enough that the line drive skimmed the tips of Dunn’s gloves and into the back of the net for a goal and a 2-1 Marauders lead.
But just as after the first Mt. Vernon goal, the Cougars found a way to answer, and this time, quickly.
Minutes after Nelson’s goal, G-C earned itself a free kick from about 25 yards out.
The Cougars’ Riley Sexton took the opportunity to connect on the premier goal of the match. The freshman’s game-tying shot landed so perfectly in the upper right-hand corner of the net, it looked as if she had walked over and placed it there, just out of the reach of lanky Marauders keeper Olivia Coleman’s hands.
““That shot was perfect,” Clark said. It’s just the type of shot you want to see from your freshman. She couldn’t have put in a better spot. It was a good way to finish the half.”
The second half did not contain near the action of the first. Though near-misses and potential-game winners peppered the final minutes, of regulation, neither team could find a way to sneak a shot past either Dunn or Coleman.
The story, however, was different in the second of the two seven-minute overtimes. The first overtime played out much like the second half with a couple more excellent saves from Dunn to keep the game knotted, but the second half contained far more of that unpredictable excitement that colored the opening 40 minutes of the game.
With about five minutes left before the end of overtime, freshman Allie Geswein managed to do what no one had able to in the past hour. Not nearly as aesthetically pleasing as the Sexton goal, but just as effective, Geswein, positioned in the Marauder’s box, was able to punch the ball past Coleman in the middle of an at least seven-player scrum.
It looked almost assuredly be the game-clincher, but Mt. Vernon senior Claudia Brown, whose game had been filled with plenty of close calls, had other ideas.
With only a minute to go, Brown took a set kick just outside the 18-yard box and launched a missile into the Cougars’ woman-made wall. The call ricocheted off the wall and right back to Brown, who didn’t hesitate to launch another missile, this time between Cougars defenders and over the hand of Dunn.
The fans who filled the bleachers went wild, and the excited anticipation of the upcoming shootout filled the stadium.
Just minutes after overtime, each keeper began the shootout with a pair of brilliant saves to keep the game tied.
However, Mt. Vernon senior Hannah Whitaker delivered a strike that again skimmed the hands of Dunn and into the back of the net. The Marauders led 1-0 in the penalty shootout, and G-C’s Helgason was up next.
And that is where Monday’s action would halt. The match’s officials saw lightning off in the distance and called for a delay. About 15 minutes later, Manning made the decision to postpone until today.
“It’s disappointing we won’t get to finish such an exciting game now," Clark said. “But we’ll be sure to ready for (today).”
Mt. Vernon 3, Greenfield-Central 3
Note: Mt. Vernon leads 1-0 in penalty kicks. Greenfield has three PKs remaining; Mt. Vernon has two. Game postponed by lightning Monday. Will resume today at 5:15 p.m. at G-C.
Goals: Givan, Nelson, Brown (MV); Helgason, Sexton, Geswein (GC)
Assists: Brown (MV); Helgason (GC)
Saves: Coleman 4 (MV); Dunn 8 (GC)
Shots on goal: MV, 11; GC, 7