JASPER – Angie Lensing wants to stress that this is a completely different team.
Memorial was a tour de force in the postseason last year. The Tigers blazed a path through southern Indiana and won the Class 2A state championship. The aggregate score from those six games was a staggering 39-2.
Fourteen seniors graduated from that group, leaving behind a young but talented squad. Through two rounds of the postseason, there is a similar feeling brewing around the Tigers.
No. 1 Memorial hammered No. 20 Northview 8-0 in the 2A regional championship on Saturday night. It only added to the growing belief that this team has what it takes to make a return trip to Indy.
“We are believing in each other,” said Lensing. “This team has taken on its own personality and have some ownership for this season. It belongs all to them.”
The two games in the regional were nearly polar opposites. In the semifinal, Silver Creek chose to pack the box with eight defenders and midfielders, plus two others who man-marked forwards Ryleigh Anslinger and Izzy Alexander. It was sluggish soccer at best.
Memorial pushed through for a 2-0 victory behind goals from Mia Abushalback and Hope Lensing to set up a match with the Knights. In the final, the offense exploded after feeling bottled up.
Hope Lensing buried a header on an Eve Timmons corner kick three minutes in. Alexander sent back-to-back strikes past the keeper to hand the Tigers a 3-0 lead by the break.
“We played for each other and the alumni,” said junior Annah Hopkins. “This team works so well together. It is just awesome to see us come together (right now).”
Hope Lensing added another goal with 29 minutes left, followed by tallies on the scoreboard by Timmons, Ryleigh Anslinger and Tierney O’Daniel. An own goal from the Knights only added to their pain.
But it wouldn’t not have mattered what Northview did with the ball. The Memorial defenders and goalkeeper Mallory Nussmeier continue to form a wall in the back.
The Tigers have not allowed a goal in the postseason. The aggregate score has been 37-0.
“Since our attacking people have been doing well in keeping the ball up high, we don’t have to worry about it as much,” said junior Elle Unfried. “We do have our head on straight in case it does happen.”
“Our defense is solid,” added coach Lensing. “They are still showing some weak moments, but we are working through those. When to pressure the ball. When to win the ball with our heads. Things like that. But overall, very happy.”
No. 4 Cathedral will be the next opponent in the Tigers’ tournament warpath. The Fighting Irish (11-4-4) defeated host New Palestine, 3-1, in their regional final.
But if Memorial plays to its capabilities and talent next weekend, a return to Indianapolis could be in the cards. This group feels like a family right now.
“The energy going into semistate is so high,” said Unfried. “It is just as awesome as it was the first time. I have goosebumps thinking about it. We are just ready and pumped up for this week.”
With the regional championship, the Tigers (18-3) will move to Class 3A next year due to the success factor.
IHSAA SOCCER REGIONALS
Class 1A girls at Forest Park: Mater Dei is one step closer to Indianapolis.
The No. 2 Wildcats breezed through the regional and defeated Oldenburg Academy 5-1 in the championship match. Victoria Zigenfus, Jenna Zirkelbach, Elisa Bonnell, Emma Lamble and Emily Seger all found the back of the net in the final.
The semifinal was a 4-0 victory over No. 9 Providence. Miranda Nosko scored in the opening minute, while Zirkelbach, Katherine Hahan and Megan Gries each found the back of the net over the final 40 minutes.
Mater Dei (14-4-1) will face Park Tudor in the semistate next weekend.
The Wildcats advanced to the regional championship with a 4-0 victory over Providence. Mater Dei plays Oldenburg Academy in the final.
Class 2A boys at Heritage Hills: The run for a three-peat come up short for Memorial.
The two-time defending state champions had its season come to an end in the regional championship. No. 2 Washington made a single goal stand in a 1-0 victory over No. 3 Memorial.
The Hatchets remain undefeated with a 19-0-2 record heading into the semistate. Memorial advanced to the championship with a convincing 8-0 victory over Greencastle.
The Tigers finish the season with a 14-7 record.
Class 3A girls at Bloomington South: The Huskies’ postseason run came to a halt.
After playing a scoreless first half, North and Floyd Central went down to the final minutes to decided the winner. Audrey Brumfield broke the tie for the Highlanders with 14 minutes remaining.
North finished the season with a 12-5-2 record under first-year coach Kayla Smith.
Class 3A boys at Seymour: Castle had it season come to a close with a 1-0 loss to Roncalli. The Rebels scored midway through the first half and made it stand.
The Knights, who were the 3A runner-ups in 2017, finish with a 13-5 record.
Class 1A boys at Providence: Both Vincennes Rivet and South Spencer lost in the semifinals. The No. 8 Patriots fell in a heartbreaker, 1-0, to No. 10 Providence.
Making their first regional appearance in program history, the Rebels lost to Rising Sun 3-1 in the second semifinal.