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Trojans to face Cubs for crown: Center Grove, Franklin roll in soccer semis

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Center Grove wasted no time getting its offense going during Thursday’s Class 2A girls soccer sectional semifinal at Franklin.

The 14th-ranked Trojans got three goals in the first 12 minutes en route to an 8-0 win against Whiteland.

Senior forward Jenna Linxwiler led Center Grove with three goals, and sophomore midfielder Hannah Johnson recorded two assists.

Trojans goalkeepers Jessica Humphrey and Sarah Butler combined for the shutout.

Center Grove moves on to play for its 16th sectional crown Saturday at 10 a.m. against tournament-host Franklin, which eliminated Martinsville 4-0 in Thursday’s other semifinal.

Despite Whiteland getting off just two shots on goal, Trojans coach Todd Sheely said he was impressed with how the Warriors never gave up.

“In the first couple of minutes, Whiteland made some mistakes in the back, and we made them pay,” Sheely said. “But they kept fighting. (Whiteland) coach (Katie Hartman) has done a great job getting those girls to believe in themselves.

“But I’m very pleased with our girls and the result.”

The Trojans (11-4-2) took it right to Whiteland (11-3) on offense and scored their first goal in the fifth minute, unassisted by Linxwiler.

Just four minutes later, Center Grove sophomore forward Brittnee Gilbert drilled one in from 18 feet out off an assist from sophomore Hannah Johnson to go up 2-0.

Linxwiler scored her second goal for the Trojans at the 28-minute mark, assisted by junior midfielder Sarah Standley.

Later in the half, Standley collided with an opposing player in front of the Warriors’ net and fell to the ground. Play was stopped for about 30 minutes while paramedics attended to Standley, who eventually was carted off the field wearing a neck brace and moving her feet.

Sheeley said Standley was hit in the head but is expected to be fine. She was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure, he said.

Play resumed with a successful Center Grove penalty kick off the foot of sophomore Amber Perry to take a 4-0 Trojans lead into halftime.

Linxwiler got Center Grove going again two minutes into the second half when she headed in a cross kick from Johnson to bring the score to 5-0.

With 12:22 remaining, sophomore Erin Sutton scored the Trojans’ sixth goal off of a cross-kick assist from sophomore Taylor Rasmussen.

Four minutes later, Center Grove senior Kylie Reynolds assisted on a score by freshman Bridget Eckerle.

Rasmussen put in a goal of her own unassisted in the 74th minute to seal the Trojans’ win.

Hartman said, despite the disappointing sectional loss, she couldn’t be happier with Whiteland’s season. With 11 seniors this year, the Warriors’ team goal was 11 wins, and that’s how many they got.

“We did everything we could throughout the season,” Hartman said. “But Center Grove is a good team and, technically, we’re not there yet.

“But I’m proud of the way my girls played. It didn’t matter what the score was, they kept playing.”

Franklin (8-9) got off to an even quicker start in its match against Martinsville (7-10).

Grizzly Cubs senior midfielder Meagan Hash stole the Artesians’ opening possession 20 seconds in and raced down field for a score.

Cubs senior forward Bria O’Neal then put one in off an assist from sophomore midfielder Grace Kinsey in the seventh minute to go up 2-0.

Hash scored again on another breakaway with 3:58 remaining in the half to take a 3-0 lead into the break.

Action stymied in the second half until O’Neal scored her second goal unassisted with 13:48 remaining to put the game out of reach at 4-0.

Freshman keeper Lexy Montgomery recorded the shutout for Franklin.

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