Sports Roundup – September 10

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Staff Report

NEW PALESTINE — Even with 26 years of coaching soccer on his résumé, Steve Williams still gets scared from time to time.

But, it’s never in a bad way, especially with his 2020 Mt. Vernon girls soccer team.

Loaded in talent and capability, the Marauders tend to elevate their coach’s heart rate with their natural ability, swift passing and no-nonsense approach, which was on showcase Wednesday night at New Palestine.

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Junior Shay Shipley scored two goals, while senior Anna Isger provided the first en route to a 3-0 shutout by the Marauders over the host Dragons.

The win vaulted the Marauders to 6-1 on the season and a perfect 4-0 in the Hoosier Heritage Conference, but more importantly, it kept the program locked in on its first of many targets.

“We’ve been working towards this. We’re going for shutouts. Hopefully, we can keep it up in the next one,” Shipley said. “We want to keep up our momentum.”

Mt. Vernon, the defending HHC champion, is eyeing an outright three-peat by the end of the regular season with a kick. They don’t want to allow a single goal and they’re halfway there.

On Aug. 24, the Marauders defeated Greenfield-Central 4-0. They followed that up with a 12-0 shutout against Shelbyville on Sept. 1 and a 12-0 win over New Castle on Sept. 3.

Their 3-0 win against New Palestine increased their HHC margin of victory to 31-0. Oddly enough, the Marauders are now 31-1 in HHC play over the past five season, including the 2020 campaign.

“That’s kind of our goal, to play well defensively, and we connect the dots on a lot of stuff,” Williams said. “When our girls are playing well, they’re really playing, so I couldn’t be more pleased.”

Last year, the Marauders won the HHC outright for a second straight season with a 7-0 league record. In 2019, they allowed seven goals in HHC play and two the year prior.

In 2017, they permitted eight and five in 2016, which was their first of three outright HHC championship runs in the past four years.

“The only loss we’ve had was in a shootout (against Pendleton Heights in 2017). Obviously, knock on wood because you never know what’s going to happen,” Williams said. “A lucky bounce there or who knows, and you can lose. But, we’ve maintained a high level the past couple of years.”

The same can be said of the current year as the Marauders pushed their winning streak to six consecutive.

Mt. Vernon fired 13 shots on goal and 18 shots overall against the host Dragons (4-3, 1-2 HHC) and found the back of the net in the match’s 15th minute.

A thru-ball pass from Katie Gawrys connected with Isger, who laced her seventh goal of the year past New Palestine goalkeeper Whitney Miller, for a quick 1-0 lead.

The advantage increased to 2-0 in the 21st minute when Shipley posted her sixth goal of the season off an assist by Isger.

“Our first goal is always the hardest to get, and once we do, we calm down. We play our game after that and it goes from there,” Shipley said. “It was a good day for all of us, I think. We played well against a good New Pal team. They were good competition, and we showed up to play.”

The Dragons had one shot on goal in each half, while Miller recorded nine saves.

The Marauders’ offense, however, controlled the midfield and continued to push their attack in the pursuit of perfection.

“This is the best girls team I’ve had. In my opinion, from top to bottom,” Williams said. “We’ve had some great players, but talent level from top to bottom with this group, it’s pretty good. But, if they don’t keep working hard, they could suffer for it. I don’t see that happening, though.”

Shipley worked her second goal of the game and seventh on the season in the 43rd minute, getting an assist from Isger, which was her eighth this year, to finalize the score 3-0.

From there, the defense took care of the rest. Mt. Vernon goalkeeper Riley Britt had only one save and it came in the game’s final seconds.

“Our defense is insane with Mattie (Isger), Ellie (Gawrys). They’re tough out there, and Riley Britt, our first-time goalie, she’s been great this season and steps up when we need her,” Shipley said. “One hundred percent going into tonight, we didn’t want them to score.”

The Marauders intend to keep the trend going this Saturday at home against HHC foe Yorktown. They face Delta on Sept. 26 and Pendleton Heights on Sept. 28.

“Going into Saturday, we want another clean slate,” Shipley said. “We still have Delta and Pendleton. We want our clean slate. That’s a big goal of ours.”

The Dragons opened the season 4-0 before losing three straight, including a tough-luck loss to Yorktown 3-2 on Sept. 3. They beat HHC rival New Castle 10-0 on Aug. 27.

“(The Marauders) are really hard to compete with. They have a team full of girls that play the highest level of travel all year long, and it is very evident. It shows,” Clark said. “They’re a little ahead of us right now, but we’re not getting blown out. We’re playing hard, and we’re trying to get better with every practice.”

The Marauders are seeking a flawless finish.

With Williams set to retire from coaching after seven years with the Mt. Vernon girls program as head coach and six sectional championships overall with the boys and girls teams since becoming an assistant in 1994, the Marauders want to make 2020 special.

“We have our eyes on getting the sectional for him this year. Last year, we fell short. My freshman year, we fell short. We really want to go out with a bang for him and win sectional,” Shipley said.