Coming off of an exciting first-ever district championship win, the Lady Indians hosted their first-ever sectional game on Tuesday night, where they were pitted against one of the toughest teams in the state: Springfield Catholic's Fighting Irish.
As, once again, clouds loomed overhead, the Lady Indians took to the field, onto their home turf, which they hoped would provide an advantage over the visiting squad.
After winning the coin toss, the Lady Indians elected to take advantage of the strong wind, using passes to work their way into Irish territory, and for the first 30 minutes of play, the two teams engaged in a back-and-forth struggle for ball possession, threatening the opponent's net numerous times. The Lady Indians almost scored on more than one occasion, but Catholic's keeper Mary Wichmer stood firm, foiling each attempt.
But after the 31st minute, the Fighting Irish would strike on a pass from Rachel Sweeney to Catholic's star player, Lydia Holtmann, who would sink the shot for a 1-0 lead. Holtmann would strike again with four minutes left in the half.
Holtmann and the Fighting Irish would switch sides in the second half, but the wind had already died down, taking away the advantage.
That didn't stop them from scoring one more goal after fifteen minutes of play, with Holtmann completing her hat trick. She would finish the night with a total of three goals, leading her team to a 4-0 shutout over the Osage Lady Indians, and advancing to the state quarterfinals.
"I thought there were moments where we looked good," Coach Brandon Randall said after the game. " In that first twenty minutes or so, it was probably the best effort we have had all season collectively. When you knock on the door a couple times, and no one answers, it gets harder to keep knocking. We had three or four good opportunities, but just didn't finish, and when they did, it turned the game."
But for a program that just began three years ago, the Lady Indians have taken giant strides to getting where they want to be. They have played well, and played good teams, so they know what they need to to do, and what they want to accomplish. The team has been built from the ground-up, and now, they just have to continue doing what they have been doing.
"We took a step in the right direction with the program this season," Randall said. "Our seniors did a great job of leading the team. Our girls really have grown and now it's time to put it together and see what we can get out of it."
"I have no regrets," Randall said. "I'm proud of our girls. I thought they played well, and to their credit, I thought they came in tonight brave. They're young, and they played hard. They looked at it with their eyes wide open and did their best."
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