By KEVIN HARRIS
The New Albany girls’ soccer team made its first-ever appearance in a regional on Wednesday night at Jasper.
And it was not a pleasant experience.
Fifth-ranked Evansville Memorial scored five goals in the first half and cruised to an 8-0 victory over the Bulldogs in the Class 2A Jasper Regional semifinals. The defending regional champion Tigers (17-3) will face Castle (13-2-4) in Saturday night’s championship game. The Knights defeated Terre Haute North in Wednesday’s first semifinal in a penalty-kick shootout, 2-1.
Memorial just needed 4 minutes and 47 seconds to connect on its first goal. After Tiger senior midfielder Gracie Lachowecki attempted a shot on goal that was deflected by New Albany goalkeeper Kaelin Blessinger, Memorial’s Mackenzie Cross got the rebound and kicked the ball to teammate Hailey Greif.
Greif then booted the ball into the right corner of the goal to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
On Memorial’s next score, junior Sarah Jacobs hit a header on a Tiger corner kick. Teammate Kayla Murphy came up with Jacobs’ pass and proceeded to make a short-range goal with 30:34 remaining in the first half.
Lachowecki, who entered the contest ranked sixth in the state in goals, made her first score 26 seconds later to put Memorial up 3-0.
The Tigers’ lead grew to 4-0 with 20:14 left in the opening half. Lachowecki ran out on a breakaway, held off a New Albany defender and kicked the ball in the right corner of the net.
Senior defender Tanner Marcum tried the Bulldogs’ first shot on goal from 25 yards out on a free kick. But the ball went over the goal with 18:42 remaining in the half.
Nearly two minutes later, senior midfielder Laura Millis attempted New Albany’s second shot on goal from about 5 yards, but got stopped by Memorial keeper Kate Webster.
Lachowecki knocked in her third goal with about 6:50 remaining in the half. She received an upfield pass from Murphy and made the score from 15 yards out.
Marcum attempted another long shot on goal with 2:56 left in the half. She launched a 40-yard free kick, but Webster caught the liner in the center of the goal.
The Bulldogs (11-5-2) made two shots on goal in the first 20 minutes of the second half. Marcum tried a 20-yard kick with 33:10 remaining in regulation, but Webster made the save. Then near the midway point of the second half, New Albany junior Stephanie Iglesias attempted a 20-yard kick that went wide right of the goal.
Greif kicked in her second goal on a breakaway with 19:12 left to give Memorial a 6-0 advantage. Avery Herr put the Tigers up seven goals with 13:45 remaining on a short-range goal. Memorial’s final goal was by Abby Papariella in the game’s final 90 seconds.
Blessinger made nine saves. Memorial outshot the Bulldogs on goal, 22-6.
New Albany said goodbye to eight seniors in Marcum, Millis, Blessinger, Phoebe Bauer, Cheyenne Stephens, Reid Milam, Sara Tebault and Taylor Brodfehrer.
EV. MEMORIAL 8, NEW ALBANY 0
New Albany 0 0—0
Ev. Memorial 5 3—8
EM — Hailey Greif (Mackenzie Cross), 4:47.
EM — Kayla Murphy (Sarah Jacobs), 9:26.
EM — Gracie Lachowecki (unassisted), 9:52.
EM — Lachowecki (unassisted), 19:46.
EM — Lachowecki (Murphy), 33:10.
EM — Greif (unassisted), 60:48.
EM — Avery Herr (Kirsten Parker), 66:15.
EM — Abby Papariella (unassisted), 78:30.