Marauders lose close one to end HHC play

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By: Brady Extin | Daily Reporter

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FORTVILLE — A battle between two familiar foes, and the second- and third-place teams in the Hoosier Heritage Conference, lived up to expectations Thursday night.

Mt. Vernon fell to Pendleton Heights in a scrappy, hard-fought 1-0 game.

The Marauders have lost four straight matchups in the head-to-head series, with the last win coming in 2018.

“If we win this one we’re sitting at 6-1 in conference with a chance to tie for first. All the kids play on club together and know each other so they want bragging rights,” Mt. Vernon head coach Matt Mayhew said. “We had a pretty good game Tuesday against a Martinsville team that is pretty talented, so I thought we had some momentum. I just didn’t get it corralled tonight.”

It was a back-and-forth match, and took until the 24-minute mark of the second half before either team found the net.

On a ball that Mt. Vernon controlled at midfield, it was Pendleton Heights taking advantage of a lapse in concentration from the Marauders.

Kam Kail stole the ball and took it all the way to the right corner on his own before firing a crossing pass into the box that was headed in by Keegan Gephart.

“We kind of fell asleep and they did a quick counter on us going through the middle,” Mayhew said. “They put our backs under pressure and got us turned, and got a goal out of it.”

The scoreless night for Mt. Vernon wasn’t because of a lack of opportunities.

The Marauders had countless chances to score in the first half, but were denied by a stout Arabian defense each time.

The best chance came with 19 minutes remaining in the first half when they fired a shot off the crossbar, and had a chance to score on the rebound. But a diving save by Pendleton Heights goalie Hunter Suchyna kept things 0-0.

The Marauders had another few looks on net in the closing minutes of the first half, but were denied each time by either Suchyna or the Arabian defenders.

“We missed some chances, so I don’t know if that made us tighter and more worried about just trying to get the next one in. But it just never happened,” Mayhew said. “We were playing catch up which makes you tighter again.”

The second half was more of the same.

After the Pendleton Heights goal, the Marauder attack was in full force but the Arabians defense wouldn’t allow them any good chances.

With 6:30 remaining in the game and time running out for Mt. Vernon, they were awarded a free kick. The ball was passed into the box following the kick, and found the foot of Zach Johnson. On what was possibly the best look for Mt. Vernon all night, his shot went just wide left.

“It looks like I got outcoached tonight. Congrats to them,” Mayhew said. “They played a good solid game and had a good game plan that worked for them.”

With the loss, Mt. Vernon moves to 8-5 on the season and wraps up conference play at 5-2.

“We just didn’t have our focus tonight,” Mayhew said. “You’d hope for the last home conference game that we’d have it but we just didn’t.”

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