INDIANAPOLIS — A season that began with uncertainty on the sun-baked grass of early-August ended with pride on the cold, soggy turf of mid-October for the Tri-West girls’ soccer team.
Two goals by Melissa Sturgill were the difference in Saturday’s Class 1A regional at Park Tudor, as the host and 12th-ranked Panthers topped eighth-ranked Tri-West, 2-0.
The Bruins saw their season end with a 17-3 record, a sectional title and second-place finish in the Sagamore Conference under the leadership of first-year coach Billy Hall.
“I knew they’d had success in the past and that there was a lot of turnover from last year, so I didn’t know what kind of expectations to have going into the season,” Hall said. “I was impressed with how they played all year long and how they carried themselves on and off the field. It was a special group of players.”
Park Tudor coach Rana Hoffbauer praised the effort and sportsmanship shown on the pitch.
“Both teams really played hard,” Hoffbauer said. “Luckily we had a few more opportunities that we were able to capitalize on and we’re moving on.”
Sturgill’s first score came on a penalty kick midway through the opening half, a goal which gave her Park Tudor’s single-season goals record (28).
Park Tudor exerted its will in the first half, as the Panthers held a 7-2 shots-on-goal advantage. Tri-West’s two looks came from Lexi Turner and Sydney Carlson, but neither had enough on them to challenge goalkeeper Alexandra St. Clair.
“I think maybe we did a little too much of dropping numbers back and not pressing high enough up the field,” Hall said. “They were able to push the action to our half of the field and build up and attack.”
Sturgill’s 29th goal of the year came 11 minutes into the second half on a long shot from outside the box that cut into the lower left corner of the net.
Tri-West’s only scoring chances of the second half came on a corner kick and shot by Paige Newton, but St. Clair was there to deny both.
Nine seniors played their last game in a Tri-West uniform, and there were more smiles for what they had accomplished than tears over Saturday’s result.
“With a new coach and losing a lot of good seniors last year, we didn’t know how it was going to go,” senior Brittany Kiefer said. “To almost win conference and to win sectionals again was a big surprise for us. It was a great season.”