High hopes for the Batesville High School soccer teams were crushed Saturday (Oct. 19) in regional semifinals played in Indianapolis and Greensburg.

The girls had the tall task of facing Class 2A’s top-ranked team on their home turf, the Brebeuf Jesuit Lady Braves. The boys’ charge was not quite as daunting, but a skilled Speedway club stood between them and a finals match against Guerin Catholic.

The Lady Bulldogs surrendered one goal in the opening half, eventually falling by a 4-0 score. In the boys match, BHS and SHS were still scoreless well into the second half. The Sparkplugs, however, broke the ice at 16:11 and tacked on a second goal minutes later to advance with a 2-0 win.

Bulldogs vs. Sparkplugs

Speedway was the 17th-ranked team in the final 2A Indiana Soccer Coaches Association poll, but Bulldog coach Kyle Hunteman said his unranked club owned the more impressive opening 40 minutes in the second semifinal at Greensburg.

“We showed to be the better team in that first half and had a little bit more momentum,” he said. “Individually, they had a lot of skill, but as a team, we showed a lot of promise the first half. Finally, one little slip, one little mistake by us makes the difference and you see the result.”

The Plugs caught Batesville by surprise with 16:11 remaining in regulation. What seemed like a harmless ball was led into the goalie box; junior keeper Ethan Brewer slipped on the dirt and by the time he recovered, Eli Gottman had swept in for the finish.

Minutes later, at 9:53, Speedway sent a through ball into Bulldog territory. It was picked up by Kevin Willoughby to the right of Brewer, the former finding the net just inside the near post.

With time running short, Batesville faced an uphill battle on the offensive end, especially considering they’d yet to solve the Speedway defenders.

“Overall, I think we handled it pretty well,” Hunteman said of the offense. “We had the same guys in there and our formations were what we’ve been doing. I had them stick a little further back and not get so caught up in the midfield. I think they did a good job.”

The Bulldogs finished the season at 8-8-1.

“I’m very proud of how we played today and I think we had a successful season this year,” added the coach.

“We had more injuries than I’ve ever seen but I think we came through that, and being low on numbers to begin with, the guys really pushed their endurance and effort was outstanding, so I’m truly happy with them.”

The loss ends the careers of Dominic Butz, Jacob Deutsch, Joey Gutzwiller, Zach Harmeyer, Manav Patel and Evan Vogelsang.

“The seniors did a great job this season,” Hunteman commented. “We were just saying, those guys have been such a positive impact on the team. They really treated their teammates well and put in a lot of hard work. They were really great leaders to have.”

Guerin topped the Sparkplugs in the championship, 6-0.

Lady Bulldogs vs. Lady Braves

Brebeuf Jesuit lived up to their top billing as the Braves scored a quartet of goals against a Bulldog defense that had given up zero goals (in regulation) this postseason.

Batesville stayed right with them until the latter stages of the first half. With 12:22 on the clock, Brebeuf got a strong throw-in into the box and sneaked one past keeper Olive Cerniglia for a 1-0 lead.

Out of the halftime break, Brebeuf Jesuit added a second goal prior to the 36-minute mark.

Scoring for the Braves in the morning semifinal were Sophie Weeter (2 goals), Annie Sherman and Mia Winters. Assists went to Courtney Kelley, Gabbie Lindeman, Melanie Marshall, Victoria Cassman and Molly Kennedy. Keeper Savannah McNeal earned the shutout.

Brebeuf went down in Saturday evening’s championship, getting upset 2-1 by Batesville’s Eastern Indiana Athletic Conference colleague South Dearborn. The Lady Knights will face Evansville Mater Dei in the semistate.

Batesville ended the year at 11-7-1. Seniors Ellie Cassidy, Liz Heidlage, Abbey Prickel, Kari Reer and Carlie Werner played their final match as Lady Bulldogs.

Will Fehlinger can be contacted at sports@batesvilleheraldtribune.com or 812-934-4343, Ext. 220112

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