By GREG MENGELT
FLOYDS KNOBS —
Tanner Marcum scored the lone goal of Saturday’s Class 2A Floyd Central Sectional championship game as New Albany’s girls’ soccer program won its sectional title in school history with a 1-0 victory over Jasper.
Marcum, who also led the Bulldogs’ defense to a shutout, took a pass from Phoebe Bauer, split two Wildcat defenders, dribbled to the top of the box and rocketed the difference-making shot past Jasper keeper Shannon Sonderman with 34:48 left in the contest.
“I knew somebody had to score,” Marcum said.
“I knew if I got the ball to Tanner, she could be two — or three or four — defenders,” Bauer said. “She was bound to get one.”
“She took that ball with so much confidence and went right up the field,” New Albany coach Julie Dueser said. “As soon she takes it and gets by one or two defenders, she’s in. She’s a very confident, very skilled player.”
Marcum also had the game-winning penalty kick in New Albany’s 3-2 semifinal win over rival Floyd Central.
“I just love her,” Dueser. “She’s a kid that I’ve enjoyed coaching for four years. The program won’t be the same without her. Those will be some giant shoes to fill.”
The Bulldogs have been close to a sectional championship in the past, including a heartbreaking loss to eventual sectional champion Floyd Central a year ago. Those trials made the 2012 title more special.
“It means so much,” Marcum said. “We’ve worked so hard the last four years and it’s always ended in disappointment. This year, I’m glad we finally got it.”
“I’ve been here five years and it’s been a long time coming,” Dueser said. “This has always been the goal.”
New Albany had 10 shots in the first half, including six on goal, but the Bulldogs were denied by Sonderman each time. Jasper, on the other hand, had no shots in the first half.
The Wildcats appeared to have several plays developing in the first 40 minutes. Each time, however, Marcum was there to sweep the ball away.
“Tanner has a great knowledge of the game and she was able to read most of their plays,” Dueser said. “And she’s just so quick and fast. If she’s a step behind, she’s usually right back with them in half a second. She’s always in the right spot at the right time.”
“I just try to be there for my time, no matter what it takes,” Marcum said. “I’m so glad I’m fast. That helps a lot. Jasper was fast and played some really good through-balls.”
“She’s the most athletic player on the field,” Bauer said of Marcum. “She makes so much impact whether she’s at the top or in the back. That didn’t have anybody who could match her speed.”
For the game, Jasper had just four shots and New Albany keeper Kaelin Blessinger only had to make one save.
“Our defense played a great game,” Dueser said. “That was team was really good at sending the ball out wide and making a cross and our team was able to adjust. We seemed to be there before they were every time.”
Still, there were some nervous moments in the final 10 minutes of the contest, including a vital Marcum clear with 8:11 left with Blessinger out of the net. Marcum then went out at the 7:55 mark with a leg injury. She returned four minutes later, but the final few minutes seemed to crawl for the Bulldogs.
“I was a nervous wreck,” Marcum said. “I just wanted it to be over.”
“It was probably the last 10 minutes of my life,” Bauer said.
New Albany will face Evansville Memorial at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Jasper Regional. Castle and Terre Haute North will meet in the first semifinal at 5 p.m. with the championship scheduled for Saturday, also at 7 p.m.
“We’ll approach it the way we approach every game and come out and give the best effort we can,” Dueser said. “That’s the best we can do.”
“It’s going to be tough,” Marcum said. “We’ve come this far, we can’t stop now.”
CLASS 2A FLOYD CENTRAL SECTIONAL
NEW ALBANY 1, JASPER 0
Jasper 0 0—0
New Albany 0 1—1
N — Tanner Marcum (Phoebe Bauer), 34:48.
Shots — Jasper 4, New Albany 16.
Shots on Goal — Jasper 1, New Albany 10.
Scoring Chances — Jasper 2, New Albany 10.
Saves — Jasper: Shannon Sonderman 9; New Albany: Kaelin Blessinger 1.
Corner Kicks: Jasper 0, New Albany 2.
Cards: Jasper — Sara Hopf (yellow).