October 26th, 2011
Valkyries Moving On After 1-0 Victory
Hollenbach, SHA defeat Central Hardin in state tourney
Clinging to a 1-0 lead and less than a minute away from becoming just the second team all season to defeat Central Hardin in a high school girls soccer game, Sacred Heart Academy had to dodge one last bullet in the first round of the KHSAA state tournament on Tuesday.
So the Valkyries turned to seasoned senior defender Mary Kate Schmidt.
Leaping above the crowded and congested goal box, Schmidt met a desperate Lady Bruins' corner kick attempt in mid-air, headed the curving shot toward midfield and prevented the potentially game-tying goal from finding the back of the net.
The crucial defensive play with 49 seconds to go in the game gave SHA a 1-0 victory over Central Hardin and advanced the Valkyries to Thursday's sub-sectional final against Male High School where a spot in the state tournament final four will be up for grabs.
"She's always been great in the air but I think I'm going to put that (play) at the top of the list," said Sacred Heart Head Coach Chris Moore. "Number one, it saved a goal. Number two, it was just such a dominant header that it cleared (the ball) out far enough for us to really push it up the field and to end the game. She's a special player and we've been very fortunate to have her."
"You can tell it's her senior year....she's taking it to a new level."
Schmidt, who kept Central Hardin away from the goal for the majority of the second half, said she knew SHA had to be ready for the Lady Bruins' best shot in that moment.
"It was really nerve-racking," said Schmidt. "You could see on the wind up that (the corner kick) was going to be curved in, so we knew we had to get up and get everything out and cleared at that point in the game."
As for the offense, Sacred Heart had its share of opportunities during the game, as the Valkyries pounded out 26 shots on goal during 80 minutes of soccer on the St. Xavier High School campus.
But it was junior Hannah Hollenbach's goal with 29:39 remaining that broke the scoreless tie, proved to be the difference and held up as the game winner. Hollenbach, who wore a hard cast on her arm during the game as a result of a lingering broken arm injury, was mobbed by her teammates following the go-ahead goal.
The score was made possible after sophomore Caroline Wistrom advanced the ball up the left sideline to freshman Lauryn Westman, whose pinpoint cross served as the play's assist.
"We were talking about that run at halftime and getting players in the right position, and (Hannah) just did a great job of getting there and knowing what was coming," said Moore. "And it is a great thing to have some different goal scorers (each game). It's difficult at times to figure out who to mark up (against) us and who to concentrate on, because we are pretty balanced going forward."
Central Hardin, which entered Tuesday's state tournament contest with a 21-2 record, had only lost to one team - Elizabethtown - during the course of the year and had outscored its opponents 103-18. But it was the 10-10-3 Valkyries that managed the tempo and pace of the game, a feat that Coach Moore attests to the difficult regular season schedule his team played in preparation for these significant postseason moments.
"I'm really, really proud of the girls," said Moore. "As I was telling them, we went through a lot of tough games throughout the year. We were in there a lot but just couldn't pull off the wins, and I think we learned a lot from that type of that type of schedule that we played this year and it's showing now."
SHA junior goalkeeper Corrine Peabody had her ninth shutout of the season in the net for the Valkyries with five stops against Central Hardin.
Lady Bruins goalie Savannah Haberman did her part in the losing effort, as the junior collected 19 saves including a Sara Herbert shot that seemed to be a sure-fire goal with 45 seconds to go in the first half, but Haberman punched it over the top post to ensure a scoreless tie at halftime.
The No. 12-ranked Sacred Heart (11-10-3) team will take on the Male Bulldogs (15-10-0) on Thursday in the state tournament sub-sectionals. It will be the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Valkyries last played Male on Sept. 24, 2007 when Sacred Heart won 4-0 in a regular season matchup.
"We haven't played Male this year but from watching their results, they've done just a tremendous job," said Moore. "It's going to be an incredibly tough game and we have to be ready to play."
Thursday's game is scheduled to begin at 7pm at Male High School.