By Brent Glasgow firstname.lastname@example.org
Hendricks County Flyer
---- — Sometimes good things come out of losses, as the Avon girls’ soccer team discovered after its back-to-back defeats to Noblesville and Guerin Catholic in late September.
The Orioles were unbeaten in nine contests entering that stretch, and came away reinvigorated after being outscored 6-1.
“I think we really needed that week,” Avon coach Eric Nance said. “Those were two good teams, but I think it opened our eyes a little bit and showed us that if we’re not on top of things and don’t come out and focus and play hard, you can get beat by anybody.”
Since that week, Avon has won seven straight while outscoring its opponents 33-3 en route to Saturday’s Class 2A state title game.
In playing 11 of the state’s top 20 ranked teams, Avon (17-2-3) has faced arguably the toughest schedule in Indiana this season. The Orioles will meet a familiar foe for the championship at 3:30 p.m. at IUPUI, in Hoosier Crossroads Conference rival and No. 5 Fishers (16-2-3). The teams tied 1-1 on Sept. 11.
“Fishers is a pretty organized team that’s good defensively,” Nance said. “They scored early when we played them and we came out strong in the second half and got a goal off a free kick. We had some other chances but didn’t put it away.”
Avon’s offensive attack is led by three players who reached double digits in goals and assists — Indiana-commit Cassidy Blacha (19, 10), Hope Van Wagner (11, 11), and Sarah Zolcak (10, 10). Madison Knock, who’s committed to Miami of Ohio, has also tallied 10 goals.
“They’ve really stepped up for us this year,” Nance said. “Combination play is something we really focus on, and that’s helped us get four players with double-digit goals this season.”
Avon has 18 shutouts in 22 games, and is led in goal by keeper Kelsey Dossey, a junior committed to Missouri who has 131 saves.
“She is a great player that brings great team spirit,” Nance said. “She keeps us organized, is very vocal, and she’s the most athletic goalkeeper in the state.”
With its deep roster and flexibility, Avon hasn’t started the same lineup twice in the state tournament. Ball State-commit Brooklynn Guerrettaz, Bailee Storms, Marissa McDowell, Alex Kimes, Heily Blacha, Miranda Ricks, Aspen Weyenberg, Sierra Weyenberg, Kayli Katterheinrich, Teagan Vonderheit, and Emily Unison are all part of the Orioles’ versatile rotation.
“It’s definitely the most well-rounded team we’ve had,” said Nance, who’s in his fourth year as head coach. “The girls are always ready when their time comes.”
With one more game left, the group wants to claim its place in school and state history.
“We’ve had great regular seasons here before, but postseason hasn’t gone the way we wanted,” Nance said. “They got sick of that and wanted to go farther. Now they’re there, and they want that championship.”