Lady Cats earn NH’s first soccer MSC title
As the sun set on the backdrop of parents and fans, then a light misty fog rolled over the playing surface at the North Harrison soccer field last Wednesday, the Lady Cats urgently waited for the siren of victory.
Winning going away, like they have in many Mid-Southern Conference games this season, the 8-2 final against Scottsburg was the win that crowned the Lady Cats champs.
‘We really wanted to win this,’ North Harrison senior Jenna Turner said.
A program 10 years old, North Harrison girls’ soccer earned the MSC title by rolling through much of the conference schedule. Corydon Central won the only other MSC titles, the previous four years.
Conquering their rivals was the big hurdle North Harrison had to reach before it could celebrate into the night in Ramsey.
‘That was beyond nerve-wrecking,’ Turner said of the 3-2 win over Corydon Central on Sept. 19.
‘Corydon has been our goal since our freshman year,’ North Harrison senior Shelby Austin said. ‘It’s good to take conference.’
Kaitlyn Butler and Austin have been scoring machines for the Lady Cats this season. Credited with 33 goals this season between them, 18 for Butler and 15 for Austin, both jumped into the scoring fray versus Scottsburg.
Finding the back of the net several times, Austin scored four goals against Scottsburg while Butler knocked in two.
‘We had a lot of good 1-2s with Kaitlyn and Shelby in the middle,’ North Harrison assistant coach Cody Austin said. ‘We had a hard time finishing early on. Normally, we don’t start really strong, but we did today. We got three goals up and kind of died off a bit. When they scored two goals, it woke them up a little bit in the second half.’
Scoring the initial goal against Scottsburg was a big relief. Coming in the eighth minute, the sophomore Butler sent a diagonal pass toward the right corner, placing the ball at the foot of Amara Santiesteban. She then sent a cross toward the front of goal where Cheyenne Byerley finished the effort.
North Harrison kept the pressure up for much of the first half. It took until the 20th minute for the Lady Cats to increase the lead to two. Santiesteban scored after receiving a pass from Austin.
Less than three minutes later, Turner linked a pass to Austin, who was left one-on-one with the Scottsburg goalkeeper. Austin put in the goal to give North Harrison a 3-0 lead.
The margin seemed wide, but Scottsburg didn’t back down. Ashley Elliot scored one of her two goals with 3:50 left before the half.
Then, after the break, Elliot took advantage of a Lady Cats’ lapse in defense to score three minutes into the second half.
With the North Harrison lead cut to one, 3-2, the Lady Cats went back on the offensive.
Wearing Scottsburg down with several attacks, North Harrison would score five goals in the final 22 minutes. Butler chipped in a shot after corralling a loose ball. She would score another before Austin polished off the match with three straight goals.
‘The goal where I got a kick up and I passed to Jenna and she passed it right back,’ Austin described as her favorite goal of the match. ‘It was good because it was best friends and seniors helping each other out.’
Santiesteban finished with three assists, while Turner had two. Kim Chiquito and Butler had one assist each.
Shelby Austin credited the team with ‘getting along, passing and working together’ as the key to playing well on the attack.
‘We got this because our team has kept together well,’ Turner said. ‘We’ve overcome a lot of things. We had a rough time last year because our team didn’t cooperate as well as we should have. This year, we have bonded really well. We’re a family.’
As a coach, Cody Austin said the staff has been pushing the girls to play to their potential. It has paid off thus far with a 10-3 record.
‘It’s nice because they are realizing they can score goals,’ Cody Austin said. ‘We tell the girls every year that we weren’t playing to our potential. Seniors come back the next year and say, ‘I wish I would have listened to you and tried a little harder.’ It sucks when you graduate and realize what could have been. But these seniors have worked for it.’
Roaring through the MSC, the Lady Cats outscored opponents 35-7 en rout to posing for championship photos last Wednesday after beating Scottsburg.
‘We’ve had some pretty convincing wins so far,’ Cody Austin said. ‘It helped that we returned almost all of our offense. Conference season was nice because we normally don’t beat Silver Creek and Corydon, and we got them both this year.’
North Harrison now will turn its attention to the Class A Forest Park Sectional. The Lady Cats opened play Monday against South Spencer.
‘The biggest thing to work on is realizing that we can compete,’ Cody Austin said. ‘We’ll play against some bigger schools in Dubois County. Heritage Hills normally wins the sectional, and I believe we can compete with them.’