Argos girls finish strong at semistate

ARGOS — Same score, different game.
No. 5-ranked Mishawaka Marian beat No. 14 Argos 3-1 in the semifinal on the way to the championship at the Argos Girls Soccer Semistate Saturday before winning the tournament with a 2-1 overtime victory over No. 2-rated West Lafayette.
The Lady Knights defeated the Dragons by an identical 3-1 score Sept.19. In the regular season meeting, Marian had firm control of the match and only poor finishing by the visitors kept the Dragons close. But in Saturday’s noon semi-state battle, Argos’ Stefany Parrish fed Jami Patterson for a goal in the 12th minute to give the hosts a lead and send the message that Argos was ready to play.
The Knights countered with a header score from Lauren Wade on a Madeline Ladue corner kick a minute later, however, and then grabbed the lead on a dribble up the middle from Denise Veldman.
Instead of being deflated, Argos’ midfield displayed some of its best possession of the year to finish the half. Some deft passing found Patterson open again, this time on the right side of the Marian penalty area. The junior striker hit a shot that banged off the left post and Marian hung on for a 2-1 lead at the break.
“I just told them after the game it was very satisfying that even though we lost, I think everybody knew that this was a totally different game than the first time we played them,” said Argos Head Girls Soccer Coach Jon Alcorn.
“At the half, we told them not to change a thing. In our first meeting, we scored on a free kick and were lucky to hold them to three goals. Today, the kids were playing them evenly. That first goal came off some great possession. We knew (Gabby) Veldman was NIC player of the year and we needed to respect that. Ally Flower marked her very well and it seemed to disrupt their attack a bit, but for us it was the extra pass and the movement side-to-side that was making things look great. They were still getting more shots, but most were from long range.”
The Dragons had another golden opportunity to level the match in the second half when Parrish won a ball on the right side of the box after some well-placed passes from the Dragon midfield. She spotted Patterson on a run on the far side and threaded a ball through two Marian defenders, but Patterson’s point-blank shot was stopped by Knight keeper Makaela Douglas. With 10 minutes to play, the Dragons switched formations to get more numbers higher up the pitch. The pressure increased on the Knights, but a counter from Gabby Veldman with three minutes to go sealed the game for the visitors.
“Argos played us so much better this time around. It was a very good game to watch,” said Marian Coach Djamel Charmat.
“(Carly) McCay and Parrish really set the pace for the team in midfield, and (Keri) Bair and (Karalei) Kring played solidly against a high level of competition,” noted Alcorn. “As seniors, they’ve shown the underclassmen how high the bar should be. It was satisfying to see so many kids improve this year. And while we just missed that tying goal, this team showed they belonged here. They went out playing their best ball of the year, and I can’t ask for more than that. It’s been a special group.”
The Dragons closed the season at 14-7 while Marian moved on to the final against West Lafayette at 17-2-1.
The Red Devils scored twice in the first half, and benefited from an own goal in the second to down Fort Wayne Concordia Lutheran 3-0.
While Argos closed out its season short of a state berth, the Dragons have plenty to hold their heads up about after winning the program its first regional title in 11 years, setting a new defensive standard of holding all opponents to three goals or less and placing seven players on the ISCA All Academic All District 1 team while putting Patterson on the All District 1 first team.
“The chemistry on this team and the relationships were probably the best I can remember of any team I’ve every coached in 14 years,” Alcorn said. “Girls, it’s a challenge for them to have 30 kids with relationships and everything going on, with all the normal sports pressures and parental involvement that isn’t always the best at times. Any girls coach will tell you that stuff is tough. One thing these seniors did is just incorporate everybody. I would say this team was probably the best team chemistry-wise I’ve ever had, and that’s a real tribute not only to the seniors, but there are just a lot of kids I could mention.”
The team bids goodbye to eight seniors in Kayla Drew, Dani Fishburn, Andrea Bartos and Katelin VanMeter in addition to starters Parrish, McCay, Bair and Kring.
“Stefany Parrish and Carly McCay, those are the two that really went through a lot of the season with injury. They didn’t really play together until about the 10th or 11th game of the year,” said Alcorn. “About the Westview game, those two just started running the possession in the midfield just like we hadn’t done before and started to get a rhythm and made a big difference in our tournament run. And even against Marian, it was like a whole other level. That was one of the bad things about losing that game is those two had the offense running so well from the midfield that it was hard to see it quit. We wanted to see them keep playing.”
“Defensively, Karalie Kring and Keri Bair, what I like about those two girls is that as freshmen and sophomores they were pretty much JV players, so they’re kind of kids that developed through the program,” he continued. “They’re both pretty nice kids, not really some of these big, bruising, physical kids that a lot of teams have. One thing that they did was I think this was the first year ever that Argos girls soccer didn’t have a game allowing more than three goals. We played some pretty tough competition. Several state champions over the years. Indianapolis North Central, South Bend St. Joe, some really big schools, and it seems like every years where we’d get beat 4-2, 4-1, something like that. They just did a good job stepping up and developing and just had a good year defensively.”
Game 2: Marian 3, Argos 1
A — Jami Patterson (Stefany Parrish), 12th minute
M — Lauren Wade (Madeline Ladue), 13th minute
M — Denise Veldman, 15th minute
M — Gabrielle Veldman 77th minute
Shots On Goal: Marian 11, Argos 4
Saves: Marian 3 (2 Devon Smith, 1 Makaela Douglas), Argos 8 (Karlee VanDerWeele)
Corners: Marian 4, Argos 1
Records: Marian 17-2-1, Argos 14-7 (final)
Game 1: West Lafayette 3, FW Concordia 0
W — Katie Bittner, 9th minute
W — Shelby Mann (Mirae Whitaker), 21st minute
W — own goal, 61st minute
Shots on Goal: West Lafayette 12, Concordia 10
Saves: West Lafayette 10 (Anna Searle), Concordia 10 (Madison Biddle)
Corners: West Lafayette 4, Concordia 2
Records: West Lafayette 15-5-2, Concordia 14-6-1
Championship: Mishawaka Marian 2, West Lafayette 1 OT
M — Gabby Veldman (Denise Veldman), 7th minute
WL — Katie Bittner (Mirae Whitaker), 70th minute
M — Denise Veldman 91st minute
Shots On Goal: Marian 7, West Lafayette 10
Saves: Marian 9 (Makaela Douglas), West Lafayette 5 (Anna Searle)
Corners: Marian 1, West Lafayette 8
Records: Marian 18-2-1, West Lafayette 15-6-2 (final)