LINDEN — “When North Montgomery and Crawfordsville play, it brings out the best in both teams,” Crawfordsville girls soccer coach Alex Ehrlich said. That statement held true on Thursday when the Athenians and Chargers girls soccer teams squared off at North Montgomery. The match ended up being one for the ages as the host Chargers edged out the Athenians 1-1 (3-2) in a shootout victory.
On a gusty night at North Montgomery the wind controlled who had the upper hand and in the first half it belonged to the visiting Athenians as they struck first at the 26-minute mark off a corner kick by senior Lorelei Schmitzer-Torbert that found the foot of fellow senior Jayda Roach who kicked it just in the left corner of the goal.
With the lead, the Athenian defense held firm for much of the remainder of the game. However Teegan Bacon was going to have her impact felt on the county battle and she finally struck with 13 minutes left in the game to even the score at 1-1.
Neither team scored in either overtime period and CHS got two of their five kicks to fall in the shootout. The Chargers also knocked down two of their four and they had the last kick as it was up to junior Kayla Hoffman who calmly drilled the game-winning kick for the Chargers.
“First and foremost that goal by Kayla doesn’t happen if Ella Smith doesn’t save those three shots,” Charger coach Julie Hodges said of her sophomore goal-keeper. “That’s the first shootout she’s ever been in and to make those saves was huge. The wind played a huge factor tonight and we just couldn’t get anything going in the first half with playing against the wind. In the end we held own and only gave up one goal.”
The victory for the Chargers sees their record improve to 5-8 on the season and they also clinch their first SAC win (1-5). The three successful attempts for the Chargers in the shootout came from Hoffamn, Ava Nunan, and Marissa Moffit. Bacon was the first to have an attempt and her shot was blocked by Crawfordsville goalie Zoey Corbin.
“We normally don’t see a ton of goals from other girls, but we have a ton of leadership up on front line,” Hodges said. “In the end it was our three offensive players who normally don’t get all the accolades that were able to finish that shootout.”
The Athenians suffer yet another heart-breaking loss to a county rival as they see their record fall to 5-6-3 (1-4 SAC) on the season. Even after yet another tough defeat, coach Alex Ehrlich continues to be proud of his team for the grit and effort that they continue to show on the pitch.
“Seeing our girls play a tough, physical and seeing the fire and passion in their eyes was really fun to see tonight,” Ehrlich said. “We had plenty of freshman who stepped up in many different. This game just made me excited for where our program is headed.”
An individual battle that took place in the game was between Bacon and freshman Caroline Novak. Ehrlich had Novak follow Bacon the entire match and the freshman didn’t back down from the challenge as she held one of the state’s best goal scorers in check.
“Caroline Novak is just a hard-nosed grinder and gets after it,” Ehrlich said of his freshman. “She’s extremely coachable and is one of those kids who enjoys putting in the work and I can’t wait to see where these next three years take her.”
Hodges also took notice of Novak’s play and made sure she got the credit that she deserves.
“I made sure to come up to her after the game and tell her what an outstanding game she had,” Hodges said of Novak. “I was sitting here thinking that if we lost it would’ve been because of her and how well she marked Teegan. Thankfully Teegan was still able to get a goal and keep us in the game.”
These two county rivals very well might meet up again in the post-season as they are both in the Class 2A sectional at Danville. They’ll find out their post-season fates on Sunday evening when the IHSAA holds its annual pairings reveal show.
“We’ve begun to be able to close out close games and not collapse at the very end,” Hodges said of her team’s recent play. “That’s a big positive for us heading into the post-season because you know you’re going to get everyone’s best.”
Crawfordsville returns to action o
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