NEW PALESTINE — A pair of repeat performances earned Mt. Vernon and Greenfield-Central spots in the boys soccer sectional championship.
The defending champ Marauders defeated Shelbyville 6-0 Wednesday in the first semifinal and the Cougars followed with a 4-0 win over host New Palestine to advance to the title game Saturday at 2 p.m.
Class 2A No. 17 Mt. Vernon beat Shelbyville by the same 6-0 score in their regular season matchup on Sept. 7. Wednesday, Matt Powell scored on a free kick and Mouhamed Konate added a goal to make it 2-0 MV at halftime. Konate notched his second goal to start the second half and Shane DeWael, Aaron Wheeler and Seth Luke completed the scoring.
“It’s a difficult game,” MV coach Aaron Britt said. “You’ve played that team already in the season and it was pretty one-sided. And tonight we led off, so it takes a while, a lot of coaxing to get some motivation. But, we found it at times. Hit and miss. Made a lot of good plays and also kind of went through the motions.”
The Marauders (12-3-3) had 18 shots on goal while the Golden Bears (2-12-1) got past the MV defense for only two attempts.
Somewhat more surprisingly, G-C (10-7) also dominated New Palestine (9-8). When the Cougars defeated NP 5-1 on Sept. 19 it marked one of the few lopsided intra-Hancock County soccer battles in recent years.
But G-C picked up Wednesday right where it left off three weeks ago. Less than three minutes into the semifinal, ultra-quick G-C sophomore Enrique Ferrara found the net for a 1-0 Cougars lead. He scored again three minutes later and, with 34:06 remaining in the first half, G-C was ahead 2-0. Forty-eight seconds into the second half, Conner Shaw gave the Cougars a 3-0 advantage. Ferrara completed a hat trick with 26:52 remaining in the contest.
“Tonight, (Ferrara) was in the right spot, making the right run and we played him some pretty good balls and he put them away,” G-C coach Jared Manning said. “His finishing ability continues to get better. He does a lot of work on his own, and we’re pretty pleased with that.”
Ferrara has 14 goals this season, second in the county to Konate’s 27.
Ferrara and his teammates will attempt to penetrate one of the state’s top defenses Saturday, a feat the Cougars couldn’t accomplish in a 3-0 loss to Mt. Vernon on Sept. 12. The Marauders are allowing just over one goal per game this season.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to play them again,” Manning said. “We didn’t feel good after the last game, so we’re looking for a little bit of redemption. And we were playing a little differently then. So I think the way we’re playing now will help us offensively exploit, maybe, if they have a weakness.”
The Cougars have won seven of their last 10 games. The losses: 3-1 to No. 6 Fishers, 2-0 to No. 10 Center Grove and 1-0 to unranked Batesville, which has a 14-1-1 record.