After breezing by Martinsville 8-0 to open the season, Greenwood was in the midst of perhaps the best season in its girls soccer history. Martinsville was mired in one of its worst.
That all turned Tuesday night as Martinsville upset Greenwood, winning on penalty kicks 4-2 after 94 scoreless minutes of action Tuesday night in the Class 2A Sectional 24 opener at Franklin Community High School.
“It was the first win of the year — great time to do it,” said Artesians coach Jon Marion, whose team is now 1-15-1 headed into Thursday’s duel with Center Grove.
Emma Hess sealed it with a deciding penalty kick goal for the Artesians. Junior Kayla Rance and sophomore Veda Craig connected on the first two penalty kicks for Greenwood, but the Woodmen missed their next two.
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“They improved incredibly from the first time we saw them, and we knew that,” Greenwood coach Joe Mushrush said. “We didn’t take them lightly. We prepared well. They got good athletes and they’re well coached. They did bother Kayla.
“Other players stepped up well and and had chances. In the end, we just didn’t put one in. If we had put one in, it would have been a totally different story. It happens, that’s how the game goes sometimes. When you go to penalties, it’s a lottery anyway.”
The Woodmen finished with a 10-3-2 season.
“It’s tough, but I don’t think it takes away from the season we had,” Mushrush said. “We took big strides as a program. Obviously it’s disappointing to not go as far as we did last year in sectionals. But, overall, this group pushed us further to new heights. We challenged for the (Mid-State) conference. We started the first nine games only giving up one goal.”
Marion said the Artesians have come a long way out from the lopsided opening loss.
“We’ve really come a long way since then,” Marion said. “It’s shows the work these girls have put in. All season long we’ve been right at the cusp of knocking someone off. (Tuesday night) they executed the game plan magnificently. We knew who their stud player was. Kayla Rance is an exceptional player. We knew we had to contain her. They executed perfectly. We put a lot of pressure on the goal but could not put it in.”
Martinsville goalkeeper Abby Sisson delivered several nice saves.
“She was great,” Marion said.
Marion figured the longer the game was scoreless, the more pressure was on Greenwood.
“I think they expected to win this game,” Marion said. “They’re a very good team. It’s probably the best Greenwood team I’ve seen, and I’ve been coaching up here for 15 years. We figured the deeper we put pressure on them, they were going to get frustrated.
Greenwood will graduate five seniors who were a big part of its success. The Woodmen had lost senior Taylor Neely, the team’s second-leading scorer, to a torn ACL late in the season.
“I’m sad for (the seniors), they’re a great group,” Mushrush said. “They have nothing to be ashamed of; they played as hard as they could. They played an overall good game.”