FORTVILLE — Over the final six weeks of the regular season — a span of 14 games — the Center Grove boys’ soccer team was defeated only once: No. 1-ranked Carmel beat the Trojans 2-1 on Sept. 25.
Unranked and underdog Mt. Vernon nearly gave No. 4 Center Grove a more shocking loss Saturday in the regional finals.
The Trojans escaped with a 1-0 victory, thwarting the Marauders’ Corban Hartley-led defensive effort.
Center Grove (17-2-1) advanced to the Evansville Harrison Semistate to face No. 3 Evansville Memorial (19-3). Of the eight Class 2A teams remaining in the state tourney, seven are ranked in the coaches’ poll.
The Marauders (12-7-2) were disappointed at not being able to crash the party.
“It was just a game of inches,” Mt. Vernon coach Aaron Britt said. “You know, you get that opportunity against the No. 4 team and to outplay them, not the whole game, but a good part of the game, and it not quite be enough is a little frustrating.”
The Trojans haven’t been shut out all season, but Mt. Vernon certainly gave Johnson County’s premier program a scare.
Hartley, the Marauders’ senior goalkeeper, put forth one of the finest performances of his prep career, turning back the Trojans’ aggressive attack time and again.
Center Grove had six shots on goal in the first half, but Hartley kept each attempt out the net and the squads went to halftime tied 0-0.