By Jake Thompson
GREENCASTLE — After bringing home the school’s first girls’ soccer sectional title last season, the returning six Tri-West seniors were hungry to repeat that feat this year. Against North Montgomery on Saturday, the Bruins won their second consecutive sectional title with a dominating 4-1 win over the Chargers.
“This feels great because it is my senior year and our team has come along this year after losing so many great players,” Tri-West senior Gabby Edwards said. “I’m really happy that we pulled through. We are a great team and we are so happy.”
Tri-West coach Jeff Sloan appreciates the effort those seniors brought to the table this season and it has paid off with another sectional title and a 15-3 record.
“This is a strong team that graduated two previous strong teams and they’ve had good groups to learn from,” Sloan said. “I am hoping my juniors pick up on what they’ve brought to the table this season because they’ve just done a fantastic job.”
Tri-West controlled every facet of the game against the Chargers, outshooting them 21-3 while taking a 9-0 advantage in corner kicks. North Montgomery did not take its first shot until five minutes into the second half.
Edwards scored the first goal of the day for the Bruins, who battled through cold temperatures and a saturated, muddy field that held at minimum, eight areas with standing water. Edwards’ goal came at the 25:54 mark in the half as both teams fought to adjust to the conditions.
“It was a little cooler out here so they had to play through that and the damp conditions,” Sloan said. “They played good, strategic ball and did a good job.”
Tri-West spent much of the game and first half at the Chargers’ end of the pitch, but the Bruins could not get a second goal for added cushion despite many close shots.
With time running out in the half, freshman Hayley Stroup cleaned up a bobble by Chargers’ goalkeeper Emily Jensen after a shot by teammate Jordan Lightner. The shot went in with two seconds remaining in the half and gave the Bruins a 2-0 advantage.
“Every game I just want to score one goal,” Stroup said. “I feel honored as a freshman to be on varsity and be on this team with the seniors.”
The Bruins sprinted off the field for the break with renewed energy, sensing a second sectional title was just one half of play away.
“The girls were psyched and came over and were ready to go right back out and play,” Sloan said.
Tri-West stepped up its offensive pressure out of the break and it finally paid off as two more seniors scored, putting the Bruins up 4-0.
Cary Brown scored with 10:45 remaining and Lauren DeSutter put another in over Jensen’s head with 3:38 left.
North Montgomery took all three of its shots in the second half, but Tri-West’s defense played superbly throughout the game. Led by Sydney Carlson, the Bruin’s back line kept the Chargers at bay all morning.
Though challenged on three occasions and despite giving up a late goal, Tri-West sophomore goalkeeper Karen Joes has been great all year, combining with the back line as a formidable wall.
“She has recorded the most shut outs of any goalie this year with 11,” Sloan said. “Karen is a very fine athlete and the defense as a whole has attributed to that.”
Tri-West’s experience from last season should bode well as they play the winner of Cascade and Park Tudor next Saturday at 12 p.m. at Park Tudor in the one game regional.