NEW PALESTINE — Bobby Holden knows full well that it’s been an unusual year for the New Palestine girls’ soccer program.
The past two seasons, the Dragons have posted 17-1-3 records and run their Hoosier Heritage Conference gamut unscathed.
However, entering Wednesday NP (4-5) had dropped three straight, with all three setbacks coming at a weekend tournament in Zionsville against McCutcheon (5-4), West Lafayette (5-2) and Sylvania Northview, a team receiving votes in Ohio’s big-school soccer division.
“This school isn’t used to losing three games in a row, let along losing, and losing those games was tough on the girls,” said Holden, whose program lost 11 seniors, including seven starters, off the 2011 team. “We had a talk about it. We decided playing that good competition is going to show this week, and it did.”
Sharpened from its tough weekend and boosted by a balanced scoring attack, New Palestine handled rival Mt. Vernon 4-1 Wednesday night to move to 3-0 in HHC play.
MV (4-2) fell to 1-2 in HHC contests.
The Dragons struck early against the Marauders. Not even four minutes into the match, NP’s Lauren Joray’s free kick went past the arms of MV goalkeeper Olivia Coleman. Jen Roberts settled the ball, then fed Madison Parish, who booted the ball into the back of the wide-open net for her sixth goal of the season.
About 20 minutes later, Coleman garnered a yellow card after she and Parish made contact going after a 50-50 ball in the MV goalie box.
Joray converted the ensuing penalty kick by sending the ball into the upper right-hand corner of the net for her team-leading eighth score and to push the red-and-white’s advantage to 2-0.
Three minutes later, the Dragons struck for the third time. Mouzin corralled a long right-to-left cross from Joray and then chipped the ball at the net from the left side of the box. The ball ricocheted off the right post and in for the final goal of the first stanza and Mouzin’s fourth of 2012.
“We played well and tactically strong in the first half,” offered Holden, who took over for longtime coach Dana Merrick before this season.