Emalie Ayers and Addison Charles achieved a feat no other female Mountie athlete had in the last 50 years when Southmont was crowned IHSAA Class A Sectional champions in girls soccer last Saturday with a 2-2 (2-1) shootout win over Cascade.
Four consecutive sectional titles makes Ayers and Charles the only Southmont female athletes to win four sectional titles in a single sport during their athletic careers.
“It was a sigh of relief for me,” Ayers said. “I knew our team could do it and had it in us.”
“Pure emotion,” Charles added about her feeling following Saturday’s win. “Coach Keller was telling us all week if ‘you guys just work hard, if you really want this you’re going to work for it.”
The sectional title comes after the Mounties won just two regular season games. It is now the second time in three years Southmont has won a sectional title with a losing record.
“I’ve been saying all season that this is an exact repeat of our sophomore year,” Ayers said. “It sucks not winning, but we won when it really really counted.”
After graduating top goal scorer Lexie Odum from the 2019 regional final team and adding three new starting pieces to the defense, including freshmen Justine Troutman and Ashlynn Maddox and sophomore Chloe Lynn, it meant junior goalkeeper Belle Mille would have to step up.
“I’ve tried to keep it positive back there, just reminding everyone to communicate and work as a team.”
The Mounties lost two regular season Sagamore Conference games in a shootout and Miller yielded a pair of Cascade goals on penalty kicks during regulation, so she was determined when the sectional final headed to a shootout.
“We worked on it a lot throughout the season, because we have had so many PK endings,” she said. “I was prepared for that.”
Now 4-7-1 overall, the Mounties face Centerville (7-4) in the regional semifinal at 12 p.m. at Park Tudor on Saturday, the same team they beat 1-0 in the semifinal in 2019. The Mounties believe they are playing their best soccer of the season.
“It was certainly a tough season,” second-year coach Phil Keller said. “We overcame a lot of adversity throughout the season and then coming through the end here we did a good job of winning the sectional. We are winning when it matters. We very well could have been 8-2 during the regular season if some things would have went our way, but hindsight is 20/20 so being able to get the wins down the stretch and win when it matters is the most important thing.”
A win Saturday in the semifinal would likely pit the Mounties against No. 1 Park Tudor, the defending state champion and team that ended the Mounties’ season last year with a 2-0 defeat in the regional championship.
Southmont is still chasing that elusive first regional title in soccer, and what would be the first regional championship in any sport since the softball team won in 2014.
“I just want to see how far we can go,” Charles said. “And I know there’s a lot of people and a lot of talk going around that ‘they’re going to play the No. 1 team in the state if they win the first game, so everyone is kind of already doubting us.’ It would feel amazing if we could win a regional.”
Even with what many consider an impossible task, the Mounties will be ready to once again overcome adversity like they have all season.