FORTVILLE — In a game that resembled basketball on grass instead of a typical, low-scoring postseason soccer affair, Mt. Vernon slipped by Southport 3-2 in its regional semifinal match Thursday night in Fortville.
The contest featured up-and-down action for all 80 minutes, with smaller Southport using its skill to emphasize one-on-one matchups and backdoor cuts, while MV used its size and employed the long ball. The Marauders outshot the Cardinals 15-12 on the night, including 10-5 in the second 40 minutes.
“We figured defensively and athletically, since they’re kind of quick, we could do a good job of containing. I told my guys we could score goals and we did,” said fourth-year Mt. Vernon coach Aaron Britt. “We were trying to be aware and more cognizant on the defensive side because of their style. They move together well, so contain the best you can and make sure you follow their runners.”
The Marauders, who lost in penalty kicks in their last regional championship game appearance to Roncalli in 2010, moved one step closer to their first regional title since 2005.
Mt. Vernon (12-6-2) will take on No. 4 Center Grove (16-2-1) in the regional final Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. The Trojans defeated Warren Central (6-7-4) 5-0 in the first semifinal Thursday. The regional victor will advance to the Evansville Harrison semistate on Oct. 20 and take on the winner of Evansville North (8-9-2) and No. 3 Evansville Memorial (18-3).
With the score level at two and under 29 minutes to play in regulation, Josiah Noska used his head to redirect a Kyle Cansler free kick past Southport goal keeper Caleb Bernhard and hand MV the lead for good. The free kick was awarded to the Marauders when Cansler was fouled near the left sideline, and the score was Noska’s third of the season.
Five minutes earlier, Southport’s Van Lian fed Van sui Lian on a one-touch goal to supply the Cardinals with a 2-1 advantage. However, Southport’s first lead of the game was brief as MV’s Mouhamed Konate hit paydirt four minutes later, gathering a pass from CJ Coleman and firing the ball into the right corner of the net to even the match at two goals apiece.
Konate’s goal, his 24th of the season and second on the night, gave him the single-season school scoring record. Eric Myers previously set the mark in 2005.