HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER

GIRLS SOCCER: Athenians, Chargers shutout in sectional

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Athenians see improvement as season closes

DANVILLE – Crawfordsville Girls soccer knew they had an uphill battle in their opening match of the Class 2A Sectional 25 at Frankfort as they took No. 14 Lafayette Central Catholic Wednesday night. The Athenians, who end the season at 1-12, under first year coach Alex Ehrlich showed improvement all season but saw their season come to an end at the hands of the Knights by a final score of 4-0.

Karsyn Cherry got the first of her three goals eight minutes into the game to get the Knights on the board as both teams battled the rain throughout the first half.

The Athenians and Knights played back on September 13 with the Knights taking home a 9-0 win. Ehrlich, despite his team’s season coming to an end, found nothing but positives.

“We had nothing to lose, and I thought we played very well tonight,” he said. “What’s great about these girls is they want to get better, and you saw that tonight. I got to start to build relationships with these girls. Obviously tonight didn’t go the way we wanted to go, but I’m so proud of this group.”

The Athenians will graduate seven seniors this season in Tori Abston, Kellie Xotia, Hannia Hernandez, Ellana Salas Olvera, Marilyn Salas Olvera, Selena Starks, and Ashlyn Risley. Ehrlich couldn’t say enough about how that group helped him in his first season at the helm.

“The past few years we’ve lost a ton of seniors and losing these girls is going to hurt, but to see so much growth in especially the underclassmen I think we’ll see some really good things from them in the future. With repetition and with less interruptions like we had this season we should be set up to continue to grow.”

In their first season Ehrlich has seen his defense improve leaps and bounds from a season ago. The next phase of rebuilding the team will come on offense as that’s an area, although better than last season, the Athenians struggled in.

“We know that we know how to defend the ball well, and that’s one step of the equation,” he said. “We’ll have a key emphasis on attacking and finishing at practice and also play around a little bit with some of our formations a bit more. Also we can move girls up a bit more and move them up the field as attackers. It’s just one of those things we have to play with in the summer.”

Chargers fall to host Warriors

Like Crawfordsville, North Montgomery knew it would be a challenge taking on the 11-3-1 Danville Warriors in their opening round of the sectional. Falling to the Warriors 6-1 earlier in the season, the Chargers were looking for redemption, but ultimately had no answer for the host school, falling 5-0.

Rory Teel got the scoring going at the 19-minute mark for Danville, then two first-half goals by Mya French made the score 3-0 Warriors at the half.

The Chargers had numerous chances offensively to score as junior Teegan Bacon was able to break away for shot opportunities, but was just off on every shot. Bacon came into the game tied for the all-time lead in school history in goals, but that record will have to wait until next season.

“We know that the way that we play, teams are going to squeak some goals past us,” Charger coach Julie Hodges said. “Luckily most of the time we’ve had the offense to sustain allowing those goals. Our focus was coming in was how were we going to counter-attack when Danville did get some goals. It felt like we were just inches away about 5-6 times. We executed the game plan to the best of our ability but unfortunately Danville was the better team.”

North Montgomery will graduate ten seniors, all of whom have played big roles and have seen success in their careers. Halee Claycomb, Courtney Engels, Lydia Dugard, Rachel Smith, Maggie Michael, Sydnee Turner, Caitlin Burns, Gracen Schwabe, Makayla Johnson, and Lindsey Jaimez all put on the Charger jersey for the last time. Hodges, through some tears, talked about what this class has meant for the program.

“I feel like this group is an extension of our seniors from a year ago,” the long-time Charger coach said. “They were all so close, came up together, and they have changed the culture of this program. They’re going to be missed. All of the records and successes that they have had just makes me so proud to be their coach.”

The Chargers end the season with a record of 7-7-1 and their highest finish ever (tied for third) in the Sagamore Conference at 4-3. Hodges knows that to continue to compete at a high level, and to be up there with teams like Tri-West and Danville, it all starts with putting more time in in the off-season.

“We’ve got to have more girls playing in the off-season,” she said. “Playing other sports has had a great impact on the athletes that these girls have become, but we also want to get as much soccer time as possible. Despite losing ten seniors, we’re bringing back 20 players plus any freshman we may bring in. We’re going to have the numbers and the experience so just really getting in the work during the off-season is what will take us to the next level.”

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