By GREG MENGELT
Providence won its fourth regional championship in school history and its second straight with a 7-1 win over Heritage Hills on its home field on Saturday.
The defending Class A state champions will face Evansville Mater Dei (14-7) Saturday at 11 a.m. in the first Evansville Mater Dei Semistate semifinal.
“We get to keep playing,” Providence coach Dave Smith said. “We’re thrilled to get to go to Evansville again. There are only eight teams left in the state and we’re one of them.”
“As a senior, I don’t want to lose,” Providence’s Maryashly Betz said. “We’re looking forward to next Saturday. [Mater Dei] is a good team. We’re going to have to come out and play hard. All we’re looking at is the first game.”
The fourth-ranked Pioneers (12-4-3) dominated from the start on Saturday, shooting seven times in the first 10 minutes. The rate at which shots were fired at Patriot goalkeeper Madeline Crews didn’t slow throughout the night. Providence out-shot the Patriots 40-1, including 20 shots on goal.
“That’s awesome,” Betz said. “We’ve had a problem in the past not getting the ball off and not shooting. As the season’s gone on, that’s gotten better.”
Leah Mattingly got the scoring started when she blasted a free kick from 20 yards away into the right side of the goal less than seven minutes into the contest.
Kasey Wallace made it 2-0 on a rocket past Crews on an assist from Erin Duncan with 17:35 left in the opening half. Less than four minutes later, it was 3-0 following an Alyssa Jones goal. Jones beat Carolyn Burroughs to a Duncan pass and tapped the ball past Crews.
After a breakaway goal by Heritage Hills sophomore Breigh Haase — on the Patriots’ only shot of the night — Sarah Posante gave the Pioneers a 4-1 halftime lead with a chip shot over Crews’ head. The assist came from Jordan Reger.
It took Providence 25 minutes to get on the board in the second half. Duncan gave Providence a 5-1 cushion when she bent a ball into the top-right corner on a feed from Katelyn Koopman.
Koopman then scored herself. A Wallace shot was deflected by Crews — one of her 13 saves — but Koopman was there to clean it up to make it 6-1.
Reger then completed the scoring on a header off of a cross from Mattingly with 2:40 left in the regional final.
Seven goals, seven different goal scorers.
“Last year, we had one main scorer,” Duncan said of the graduated Casey Marlin. “This year, goals can come from all over the field.”
“This is a very unselfish bunch,” Smith said. “Nobody cares who scores. Whatever it takes to shove the ball in the net.”
If the Pioneers can get by the host Wildcats in Saturday’s semifinal, they will battle either Park Tudor (13-6-1), Lawrenceburg (17-2) or Chatard (12-6-1) for a chance to repeat as semistate champions.
“I feel good about our chances going forward,” Smith said. “It’s going to take a good team to beat us.”
CLASS A PROVIDENCE REGIONAL
PROVIDENCE 7, HERITAGE HILLS 1
Heritage Hills 1 0—1
Providence 4 3—7
P — Leah Mattingly (free kick), 33:31.
P — Kasey Wallace (Erin Duncan), 17:35.
P — Alyssa Jones (Wallace), 13:54.
H — Breigh Haase, 5:54.
P — Sarah Posante (Jordan Reger), 3:09.
P — Duncan (Katelyn Koopman), 14:57.
P — Koopman (Wallace), 11:07.
P — Reger (Mattingly), 2:40.
Shots: Heritage Hills 1, Providence 40.
Shots on goal: Heritage Hills 1, Providence 20.
Scoring Chances: Heritage Hills 1, Providence 33.
Saves: Heritage Hills — Madeline Crews 13; Providence 0.
Corner kicks: Heritage Hills 1, Providence 4.
Fouls: Heritage Hills 3, Providence 10.
Cards: Providence — Emma Roesner (yellow).