Cherry on top: Lafayette Central Catholic duo combine to end Lady Dragons’ season
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
KOKOMO – Argos girls soccer coach Joe Stone does not think his team overachieved this season.
When your team is playing against Caroline Lutz and Karsyn Cherry, it’s likely that your list of achievements is not going to grow any larger.
Lutz notched a hat trick, and Cherry also scored for No. 2 Lafayette Central Catholic in a 4-0 win over the Lady Dragons in a Class 1A semistate at Kokomo High School’s Walter Cross Field Saturday.
Lafayette Central Catholic jumped out to a 3-0 lead and played keep-away from Argos for most of the contest, holding Argos to just one shot on goal, which came from Emma Dunlap in the first five minutes.
It marked the first time Argos had been shut out since a 1-0 loss to Boone Grove in the 2019 regional final.
Argos’ 12-game winning streak was snapped with the loss. The No. 6 Lady Dragons, who were playing in the semistate for the first time since 2013, finished 15-5.
Argos has won five regionals in their history – four in the class era of soccer, which began in 2011 – but has never won a semistate.
But the standard has been set for the immediate future of Argos girls soccer.
“I don’t think they overachieved,” Stone said. “I think they played to their level. … You can play to a certain level, but you’ve got to believe in yourself that you can play at that level all the time. There were points of absolute brilliance, even tonight. But then we’d go back to like, ‘Oh, I can’t believe we made four passes in a row. I’ve got to get rid of the ball.’ And that’s a young thing. The kids are young.”
No. 2 Central Catholic improved to 15-3. They have outscored their opponents 28-1 in five state tournament games so far. They will play No. 1 Park Tudor in a rematch of last year’s state title game, which Park Tudor won.
Central Catholic will move up to Class 2A per the IHSAA Success Factor for the 2021 and 2022 state tournaments.
Lutz, who has verbally committed to NCAA Division I SIU-Edwardsville, scored off a Cherry assist less than eight minutes into the game.
A Lutz corner kick turned into a Cherry goal at the 21:31 mark.
Moving quickly on a counterattack, Lutz scored off an assist from sister McKenna with 7:25 left in the half to make it 3-0.
Central Catholic had a rebound goal disallowed on an offsides call in the second half.
Caroline Lutz made it 4-0 with 19:05 left when she beat Argos keeper Alyssa Poisel in a one-versus-one move.
Counting the four they scored against Argos, Lutz and Cherry have combined for 58 goals on the season.
Argos had recorded five clean sheets during the season, but they didn’t have an answer for the Central Catholic duo. Cherry and Lutz combine technical precision with top-notch speed.
“I realized that in the first seven or eight minutes I had Lauren McGlothin on her a little bit anywhere she was close,” Stone said. “Those girls are good. They’re high-caliber girls. They’re there because of what they are. They’re a great team. A great team. I kind of abandoned the marking part because the first five, 10 minutes of the game, you can tell how your defense is going to play, how everything’s moving, the flow of the game. The girls were a little skittish. Of course. It’s the first semistate in seven years that we’ve been in. They were a little worried, played a little scared. So I just nixed it right away.
“And, yeah, one of them scored three, and the other girls had two assists and scored one. But those two are good players. Lafayette Central Catholic is a great team. They went to state last year. They were the better team at state last year. They just came up short. They had something to prove.”
Central Catholic’s defense did not allow Argos to coordinate any passes. Stone even went to a 3-5-2 alignment to try and get more players forward and improve their offensive opportunities.
“Their defense is solid,” Stone said. “They’re strong. Our girls weren’t moving like they should have been probably. But, you know, they played hard. We couldn’t get anything going. Every time we did, it was just one little touch too hard or a bounce on the ball that just didn’t fall our way today. Just unlucky.”
Once either has the ball, it’s hard to get the ball from them.
“Our best defense is our offense,” Central Catholic coach Bill Kerr said. “We’re pretty potent. We had looked at their game film against Andrean. We had had some pretty good success against Andrean early in the season. When we were watching the film of Argos and Andrean, we had a feeling we could exploit their corners, and we did that today.
“We’re a possession team. A lot of the teams we play are what we call a long-ball team. And that’s what a lot of teams try to do to us. They just try to send it over the top. We’ve got a lot of speed in the back, and we really don’t give up a lot of shot opportunities.”
Seniors Ariana Petz, Sydney Shepherd, Maisy Fields, Madi VanDerWeele, Madisyn Barcus and Poisel all played the final games of their prep soccer careers for Argos. Shepherd, VanDerWeele and Poisel were the tri-captains.
But freshmen like Samantha Redinger, Cailey Markley and Lilly Hines and sophomores McGlothin, Aryanna Allen, Bella Stults, Dunlap and Kadyn Baughman are all expected back as Argos attempts for a fourth straight sectional and second straight regional next year.
Juniors like Hannah Trump, Elizabeth Edmonds and Allison Zahm could also play big roles next year.
“The scariest thing as a coach is how these girls react to this loss,” Stone said. “They’ve got to realize they can come back. We can be here next year and the year after easy if they believe. If they believe, we can do this.
“I’m going to be returning eight starters next year. The future looks great for Argos.”
Said Kerr of Argos: “They are a very talented, quality team. We were just able to exploit some things we’re good at and saw some things we could take advantage of.”