GREENSBURG – There were generally three outcomes for the Batesville Lady Bulldogs in their first-round matchup against Beech Grove at Greensburg’s IHSAA soccer sectional Tuesday (Oct. 8).
None of which harmed coach Kyle Laker’s squad’s chances of winning in any measurable way.
Either the Dogs were getting called for offsides (12 flags up by the end of the match), the Lady Hornets’ goalkeeper Morgan Woodruff was handling or deflecting one of Batesville’s 46 shots, or BHS was adding to a lead they first gained in the opening five minutes.
“Obviously, this was a really unconventional game today,” Laker said of the eventual 4-0 win for his girls, ranked 13th in the final Indiana Soccer Coaches Association 2A poll.
“You don’t normally see a team playing a midfield trap hoping to catch you offsides, which they did eight times in the first half alone,” he added. “They were holding a really high defensive line because they had the speed to do that.”
The resulting free kicks were simply volleyed back into Hornet territory as the Bulldogs kept up a relentless attack throughout the game’s entirety.
“After we got through the initial shock of their different game plan, we just wanted to possess the ball wide,” Laker explained. “After you get the ball wide and once the ball is forward, you get your numbers moving forward because then we have our fast girls coming down the middle.”
The Bulldogs were up 2-0 before the clock hit 35 minutes.
Seniors Liz Heidlage and Carlie Werner used a combination to make it 1-0. Heidlage dribbled through the back line and found Werner open in the middle of the box.
Sophomore Olivia Knueven later played a through ball to a streaking Lauren Gutzwiller, who then outran the BG defense for a finish into the far post.
Laker was able to freely substitute all evening, and it was one of the backups who sustained the high level of offense. From an assist by junior Caroline Kellerman, freshman Bella Britch placed one into the back of the net for the Dogs third goal of the half.
Piggybacking off a defensive shutout in the regular season finale last Thursday, Batesville went through the first 40 minutes unscathed; the Hornets got off just one shot on frame, scooped up by junior goalkeeper Olive Cerniglia.
Cerniglia (6 saves) would give way to sophomore Lilly Wonnell following a second-half collision with BG’s Chimya Crawford, but the end result was the Bulldogs’ fifth shutout of the season.
“The goal is a shutout, which is key against a team like this,” said Laker. “They had a couple fast girls and were just dangerous enough where we had to keep them in front of us. (The shutout’s) what we needed going into Thursday’s match.”
The starters returned to the field after intermission and made it a four-score difference. Werner laid a ball to fellow senior Abbey Prickel in the box, the latter sending it through.
Wholesale lineup changes came at the 24-minute mark, with the intensity not skipping a beat on either side of the pitch.
A few more of the Hornets’ seven total shots were denied. On offense, Laney Flynn, Tristan Rowlett, Catherine Raab, and Britch all had multiple shots on goal.
Batesville (9-6-1) faced 2nd-ranked Indianapolis Cathedral Thursday in the first of two semifinals, host school Greensburg meeting Indpls. Shortridge in the other. Cathedral won the Class 2A state championship last fall, shortly after falling to Batesville 1-0 during the regular season.
The sectional title match is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday. Semifinal results were not available at press time.