The big guns draw again! (Updated)
For the second year in succession, the area’s big guns have been drawn against each other in the early stages of the 17th annual IHSAA Girls’ State Soccer Tournament.
That means a minnow will reach the final of the nine team sectional to be staged at Floyd Central from Oct. 11-16. Last year, it was Corydon, and this time Silver Creek, Charlestown, Christian Academy of Indiana and North Harrison will challenge the Panthers for that championship final spot.
What is also means is that Providence is once again paired with New Albany in the first round, while reigning sectional champs Floyd Central will face Jeffersonville.
The draw was actually made while these teams were playing each other Tuesday, with the Pioneers handing a 5-0 drubbing to the Bulldogs, and the Highlanders beating Jeffersonville 4-0.
Floyd Central coach Lewie Stevens said Providence is the “clear favorite” going into the tournament.
“They beat us at our place, they beat North Oldham, they beat New Albany decisively, and I just think they are hitting on all cylinders,” said Stevens. “They are a quality side.”
He added they are glad to not have to play in the play-in game for a third year in a row.
“Four games in one week is tiring for all involved,” said Stevens. “We obviously hope to get past Jeff in the quarterfinals and are excited about playing against the winner of the New Albany-Providence game. We hope to prove ourselves as worthy of defending the sectional title, but I am quite sure Providence will have a lot to say about that.”
Providence coach Dave Smith said the draw once again favors Floyd Central, who will play at home and face just one of the “top-three” opponents to win it all.
“Our perspective is multi-faceted,” said Smith. “One, it’s wasted energy to question something like the blind draw procedure which is completely out of your control. Two, these rivalry contests are the very games our players and parents will remember the rest of their lives, so the more opportunities the better. We’re excited and ready to get the tournament under way.”
New Albany coach Julie Deuser said she was surprised to draw Providence for the third straight year.
“In a way I believe it is a good thing,” she said. “My team certainly has something to prove now. We know that we can play with Providence, and we are looking forward to the opportunity.”
“They scored four goals in seven minutes. My girls panicked and didn’t have enough time to regroup and calm down before the next goal went in. After (that), I thought we played really well.”
Over on the boys’ side, the draw is pretty straightforward, with reigning regional champs New Albany likely to face Floyd Central in another sectional decider, while Jeffersonville and Providence should meet in the second of the area’s finals.
The winners of these two games will battle it out in the semifinal of the regional championship on Oct. 13. On regular season form, Floyd Central – who can clinch the Hoosier Hills Conference title outright against Madison tonight — has emerged as the team most likely to reach the regional final, at its own home, on Oct. 16.
A field of 286 boys’ and 249 girls’ teams are entered in the State Tournament series this year. It is last time the competition will be held in the current format, as a two-class system is to be introduced next year.