G-C season ends in sectional opener

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Greenfield-Central’s Kayla Moss defends against East Central during the first round of the IHSAA Girls soccer sectional at New Palestine Tuesday.

Tom Russo | The Daily Reporter

NEW PALESTINE — Coming in No. 18 in the Class 3A Indiana Soccer Coaches Association poll, East Central’s girls soccer team did exactly what it had to do to keep upset-minded Greenfield-Central at bay.

The Trojans scored two quick first-half goals and added three more before the halftime break.

The Cougars played even in the second half, but the damage had been done.

East Central (13-3-1) moves on to a semifinal game of Class 3A New Palestine Sectional 12 of the IHSAA Girls Soccer State Tournament with a 5-0 victory over Greenfield-Central (8-8-1) at New Palestine High School Tuesday.

“Hats off to (coach Bill Volker) and the East Central team,” Greenfield-Central coach Brandon Steeno said. “They are athletic, fast and well-coached. That’s a tough opponent to draw.

“From our perspective, would you rather have eight days to prepare for them and play them first, as fresh as you’re going to be, or play them on short rest time? If you’re going to win the sectional, you’d rather play them first. Unfortunately, they kicked us in the teeth early and it was tough to come back from that.”

East Central got a goal from Alexis Watkins, her eighth of the season, just 16 seconds into the contest. In the fifth minute, the Trojans made it 2-0 on a goal by Olivia Hopper, her team-best 22nd of the year.

The Trojans had five goals from five different players. On a header in the 15th minute, Payge Callahan gave EC a 3-0 advantage.

With seven minutes left until halftime, Mary Ashton Gindling scored. In the final seconds of the half, Kamdyn Galey put in the final tally of the night.

“We knew what to expect,” Steeno added. “It is really tough to duplicate that kind of speed in any kind of a practice setting. Even though we talked about it, I think they still were faster than we thought. They’re faster to the ball, faster through the ball, faster off the ball than what video really shows. Any kind of film study doesn’t do them justice. That’s a really good team. It will be exciting to see how far they go.”

Greenfield-Central played even in the second half, getting some great saves by its back row of defenders and goalkeeper Hannah Skene. They had an attempt in the final seconds on an attack from Sarah Contreraz. It ended with a corner kick, but time ran out without the Cougars getting a good shot on goal.

“It was 5-0 at half and 0-0 in the second half. That’s what we focused on,” Steeno said of his talk with his team at the break. “There was nothing we could do about 5-0. What we can do is learn from this. How can we salvage this game? We owe it to the seniors to give 100 percent in the second half and the girls responded. I’m proud of them for that.”

Contreraz and Skene are two of six seniors on the G-C team, all part of the first freshman class under Steeno, in his fourth year as the head coach.

The other seniors are Cora Bishop, Meilyn Howe, Gladys Rodriguez Trujillo and Courtney Vaughn.

“That was my very first freshman class as a head coach,” Steeno said, getting emotional when talking about the class that has been with him all four years. “They’re special to me and I’m proud of what they’ve done for the program. That was the very first class that has had JV experience. They’ve helped build the team and have grown every class behind them. The work they’ve put in as freshmen and sophomores and juniors, is why we have a full JV and so much experience coming in behind them.

“The future looks bright here.”

East Central will play the winner of Tuesday night’s second game between Shelbyville (12-3) and Richmond (5-8) in the first of two semis at 5 p.m. Thursday. The second semifinal will have host New Palestine (10-5-1) taking on No. 20 Mt. Vernon (10-5). Thursday’s winners will play for the sectional championship 2 p.m. Saturday with the winner moving on to regional competition.