Soccer is a funny game.
The Center Grove girls had the momentum for most of Wednesday’s Shelbyville Regional semifinal against Franklin Central, outshooting the Flashes by nearly a 2-to-1 margin in coming back from an goal down early to tie the match.
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But then, just like that, it was all gone.
Savannah Kellum’s goal with 3:29 remaining in the second overtime period proved the stunning decisive blow as the favored Trojans saw their season come to an abrupt end in a 2-1 defeat.
“I don’t think any of us were expecting that,” Center Grove junior Athena Passafiume said. “We weren’t ready for our season to be over at all.”
Kellum’s game-winner came on a quick counterattack against a Trojans squad that had dominated much of the game’s second half as well as the bulk of the extra time. Her shot from just outside the box on the right hooked perfectly over the head of Center Grove goalie Ella Thompson and tucked itself just underneath the crossbar.
Franklin Central (12-4-2) advances to the regional title match, where it will meet Greenfield-Central. The Cougars held off Roncalli 2-1 in the night’s second semifinal.
The explosive Center Grove offense that collected a dozen goals in sectional victories against Martinsville and Franklin last week seldom was seen during the first half Wednesday, when the Trojans controlled a fair amount of the action but didn’t end up with many quality chances to show for it.
The Flashes, meanwhile, seized the first real opportunity they got. A long free kick by Rylie Simmons midway through the ninth minute of play took a high bounce over Thompson and into the net.
That goal held up through halftime, but with the start of the second period the Trojans started to show a bit more aggression and dominate longer stretches of play.
With 27:40 remaining, that paid dividends. Passafiume chased down a long through ball, outhustled the final Franklin Central defender and pushed a short left-to-right shot in for the tying goal.
The score remained deadlocked for the remainder of regulation and through the first seven-minute overtime, which ended with Franklin Central’s Kelsey Heaton diving to smother a Passafiume shot attempt as time expired.
Center Grove, which finishes with an 11-5-1 mark, loses seven seniors but still returns a strong nucleus next season, including six players who started Wednesday. Passafiume said that this unexpected loss will serve as a bit of an eye-opener for those coming back in 2017.
“You can’t underestimate any team,” she stated. “We came in thinking we were going to be the big shot out of the two teams, and they definitely brought it, and I don’t think we were all ready for that. So next year, we’ve just got to be ready.”