Carrying the banner for southern Indiana
Providence girls’ coach Dave Smith said he believes the school is “carrying the banner” for southern Indiana soccer when it attempts to win the inaugural Class A state title against Mishawaka Marian at Kuntz Stadium in Indianapolis tomorrow (10.30 a.m.).
“Obviously, many people do not care for Providence, in large part because they think we’re all wealthy people, which is ridiculous, but a public assumption by many,” said Smith.
“It is my hope that folks can put that angst aside and realize that the Net-Surfers (girls’ club of which Smith is director of coaching) is an organization made up largely of kids who are not headed to Providence.
“We are all part of the southern Indiana soccer family, and I hope those folks can find it in their heart to cheer for their own, locally grown soccer players — who just happen to be wearing navy blue this weekend — to bring home a title for all of us who love this game.”
Providence has never won a state title in any sport, despite coming close in football, softball and volleyball.
So to win tomorrow would be a landmark, possibly paving the way for more titles in various sports, according to Smith, who’s hoping his 13th year as coach at the school will indeed be a very lucky one.
“It will break the stigma and set the psychological tone that we can, indeed, win it all,” he said. “For our soccer program (which has won six sectional and three regional titles), it would be an honor for the girls but I really don’t see it changing us very much. For example, I don’t see kids flocking to our doors because of this, nor do I see kids who had originally planned to attend other schools opting to come our way as a result of the success of the girls’ soccer program.”
People, should, however, flock to see this current Providence (20-0-2) team if they can. (It will be streamed live on IHSAAtv.org.) The Lady Pioneers have now scored 28 postseason goals in six games without reply. Some 11 of those came from senior Casey Marlin, who has scored in every game. In fact, she now has 36 for the season, and 95 for her high school career.
The team has had 11 consecutive shutouts since its 2-2 tie with South Oldham. The “Brick Force” nicknamed outfit comprises an almost impenetrable defense, including goalie Autumn Meyer, Leah Mattingly, Kelsey Rogers, Erin Wallace and Maryashly Betz.
Midfield is also doing its job splendidly, with Erin Duncan and Kasey Wallace working well along with Lauren Holland, Rachel Wells, Katelyn Koopman, Alyssa Jones and Katie Barron.
Marlin’s partner in crime up front is tenacious freshman attacker, Sarah Posante, and others playing their part in the Pioneers’ success this fall include Michelle Knear, Allie Gillenwater, Kathleen Wiles, Jordan Reger, Gabi Wixon and Kelsea Bedan.
However, the northern Indiana No.5 Mishawaka Marian (18-2-1) – who beat No. 2 West Lafayette 2-1 in the semistate final – will be a tough nut to crack this Halloween weekend.
Ones to watch are Gabrielle Veldman, top scorer with 32 goals, her sister, freshman Denise Veldman, and midfielders Shannon Hendricks and Maggie Hartnagel.
“South Bend St Joseph’s won the overall title last year and they are only four or five miles apart,” said Smith. “My guess is there is a strong Notre Dame influence on this Marian team, and Notre Dame’s women’s team won the NCAA championship last fall, so I’m sure they are well coached.”
He added that at this point in the tournament, there isn’t a lot of difference between teams.
“All are quality sides,” he said. “Probably the biggest factors that separate one from the other are defense, effective team shape and ball possession, and having that ‘one special player’ who can score against quality opposition. Based on that, I sincerely believe we have a real chance to compete and win against our opponent this weekend.”
It’s been an interesting week for Smith, with the abundance of communication flowing the school’s way turning it into what he describes as “a bit of a circus.”
“I cannot imagine what the Super Bowl is like,” he joked. “But, then again, I doubt if those teams have coaches who wash their own pinnies and complete all the communication with the governing bodies of the competition, as do our local high school coaches. It’s all good and completely worth it for the kids, but it’s very time consuming, particularly when soccer is not my ‘real’ job.”
Ever since it was revealed last year that Indiana’s postseason soccer tournament was to be divided into two classes, it was clear who locally was going to benefit.
However, it’s one thing to be provided the opportunity; quite another to seize it.
No. 1 Providence girls have been seizing with relish this fall, a quality team unit that has had just one main goal — to go all the way.
The Lady Pioneers steamrolled through a lopsided sectional; put a decent side in the shape of Heritage Hills to the sword quite easily in regional; and took full advantage of the morsels that came their way in Saturday’s two semistate games at the Roberts Stadium in Evansville as the going got tougher.
Your heart would go out for Covenant Christian’s goalie after her first half blooper gave Providence a crucial lead and a shot of confidence at a time when they weren’t playing to their full potential, and could have even conceded only for an Autumn Meyer point blank save.
However, there’s no time for sentiment. You make full use of such gifts, defend well and put the encounter to bed with a goal from your top scorer Casey Marlin with just 1:07 on the clock to finish out 2-0.
Then you face a strong locally supported team in the shape of No. 6 Evansville Mater Dei. Of the 32 sectional girls’ winners in last season’s all-encompassing IHSAA tournament, only two – Providence and Mater Dei — contested in the new Class A this year.
Not a problem. The Lady Pioneers contained the speedy Lady Wildcats’ attack with relative comfort (I don’t remember a single troubling shot on Providence), you wear them down with your fitness, and then watch your prowling attacker (Marlin again) follow up a loose ball from a Leah Mattingly 25 yarder.
With just 3:37 left, you give scarce time to respond and you win your first semistate championship to add to six sectional and three regional titles.
Now, the Pioneers are just one game away from an historic Class A state soccer title, but they will have to overcome a tough obstacle in the shape of No. 5 Mishawaka Marian at Kuntz Stadium in Indianapolis this Saturday (10:30 a.m.)
Providence (20-0-2) has now scored 28 postseason goals in six games without reply, living up to its “Brick Force” moniker.
In fact, the team has had 11 consecutive shutouts since its 2-2 tie with South Oldham.
Marlin has bagged 11 goals in postseason, finding the back of the net in every matchup. The senior goal getter now has 36 for the season, and 95 for her high school career.
However, the Pioneers and their impressive statistics face a stern test when they come up against Marian, an outfit situated at the opposite end of Indiana next to South Bend and Notre Dame.
The No.5 Knights (18-2-1) overcame a strong No. 2 West Lafayette by a 2-1 scoreline in overtime, having played a large chunk of the game in defensive mode.
Those who will be on Coach Dave Smith’s radar will be top scorer Gabrielle Veldman, who notched the team’s opener in the seventh minute, and her sister, freshman Denise Veldman, who scored the game winner in overtime.
The Knights were semi-state runners-up to Portage in 2006, and have won six sectional and four regional titles, while its varsity boys’ soccer team made it to the state final four in 2008, losing to Zionsville.
Either Mishawaka Marian (enrollment 676) or Providence (460) is about to win its first ever soccer state title, and the inaugural Class A girls’ championship to boot.
I know who I’m going with!
By the way, if you can’t make it to the game on Saturday, you can watch it live on IHSAAtv.org.
Providence path to the final
Rising Sun Sectional
Switzerland County 4-0
Southwestern (Hanover) 12-0
Rising Sun 5-0
Heritage Hills 4-0
Evansville Harrison Semistate
Covenant Christian 2-0
Evansville Mater Dei 1-0
State Finals Schedule
When: Saturday, Oct. 29
Where: Kuntz Stadium, 1502 West 16th Street, Indianapolis
Class A (girls): #5 Mishawaka Marian (18-2-1) vs. #1 Providence (20-0-2), 10:30 a.m.
Class A (boys): #1 FW Canterbury (17-1-4) vs. #2 Evansville Mater Dei (17-5-1), 1 p.m.
Class 2A (girls): #2 Hamilton Southeastern (20-0-2) vs. #1 Carmel (21-0-1), 3:30 p.m.
Class 2A (boys): Crown Point (15-6-2) vs. #16 Columbus North (18-2-2), 6.p.m.
The girls of Providence were in scintillating form tonight on their way to the IHSAA Class A Region 15 title crown against Heritage Hills (15-5).
The No. 1 outfit swept aside the Lady Patriots 4-0, giving the home support plenty to cheer about and also sending out a warning shot to the seven remaining teams that they mean business.
The Pioneers have now scored 25 goals in their four postseason games and conceded none, living up to its ‘Brick Force’ moniker.
Freshman Sarah Posante opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a fine individual effort after some tenacious play.
Providence’s fitness and class told in the second half, totally dominating proceedings, and it took just five minutes in for them to notch a second, courtesy of Erin Duncan. Posante got her second of the night just two minutes later when the Heritage Hills defense seemed to stop, reacting to a flag that had been raised rather than playing to the whistle.
The school’s record scorer Casey Marlin added an excellent fourth – her 34th of the season (and 93rd career goal) — with 15.29 of the game to go, by which time the game was done and dusted as a contest.
Providence will now play Covenant Christian of Indianapolis (10-5-5) in the semistate at Evansville Vanderburgh County Soccer Complex next Saturday, October 22 (11 a.m. ET). The second semifinal sees No.3 Lawrenceburg pitted against No.6 Evansville Mater Dei at the same time.
The winners will progress to the semistate championship game, which will take place in the evening (7 p.m. ET).
For more on the game, don’t miss Matt Koester’s full report in the Evening News & Tribune .