In an overtime thriller, the Center Grove girls soccer team earned a 1-0 win against Mt. Vernon in Saturday’s championship match of the Class 2A Shelbyville regional.
Freshman forward Megan Perry hit junior midfielder Emmie Ward with an electric cross at 2:36 in the first period of overtime to secure the Trojans’ record 16th regional title and third consecutive.
“It didn’t seem real,” Ward said of her goal. “I kind of paused because I wasn’t sure that really happened.
“I started crying because I was so happy.”
With the victory, the Trojans (15-4-1) advance to Saturday’s Evansville Harrison semistate, where they’ll play fourth-ranked Brebeuf (20-2-1) in a 10 a.m. semifinal.
As for the regional final, Center Grove had its hands full with a tough Marauders team that had defeated two ranked teams to get into the regional final.
Both squads were evenly matched early, only managing two shots on goal apiece in the first half. The Trojans started to hit their rhythm in the second, totaling eight shots with senior Hope Brumbaugh leading the charge.
The Trojans were able to get the ball deep into the box but were met with a Marauder defender at every opportunity.
“Defensively they just packed the middle of the field,” Center Grove coach Mike Bishop said. “It was a tactic we saw them use against Roncalli, and it’s one of those things where we knew what we had to do to get behind and around but just couldn’t get it done.”
In addition to the tough defense, the Trojans did not get a lot of calls to go their way in a very physical contest. Both sides got their fair share of cautions, but the smaller Marauders seemed to get the benefit of the doubt.
Yet the Trojans still powered through the aggressive Marauders, handling them with relative ease, especially in the second half and overtime.
“I think we did pretty well,” Ward stated. “Some of the calls were a little risky, but I thought we played well.”
Bishop didn’t share his player’s optimistic outlook on the game.
“I’m not taking away anything from Mt. Vernon, they’re a scrappy team and they played hard,” he said. “But when you’re playing against a team and the officials, it’s enough to drive you crazy.”
Altogether the Trojans accumulated three yellow cards and one red card, which was given to senior midfielder Sophie Chiado with just 53 seconds remaining in the extra period.
As a result, Chiado will have to sit out the Trojans’ next match against Brebeuf.