By GREG MENGELT
It’s been three years since a Floyd Central-Providence girls’ regular-season soccer match doubled a sectional preview.
If Tuesday was any indication, it should be an interesting sectional.
Floyd Central scored two goals in the final nine minutes to pull away from their rivals for a 3-1 victory.
After spending the past two seasons contending for Class A state championships, Providence has moved into Floyd’s Class 2A sectional this year. It appears early in the season that the Highlanders and Pioneers are the two favorites to unseat New Albany as sectional champions.
If Tuesday’s win makes Floyd Central the early sectional favorite, no one was willing to admit it.
“We have good competition [in the sectional] and Providence gave us a good game,” Floyd junior Christen Miller said about Tuesday’s matchup. “We’ll be expecting a good game next time, too, if we play them in sectionals.”
“We’re not going to concede who’s the favorite,” Providence coach Dave Smith said. “I think they played well and they deserved to win. I believe we’ll play again [in the sectional] and I believe it will be a good matchup again. This one could have gone either way and I believe that one could go either way.”
A year ago, Floyd Central’s Lauren Wyatt was not happy following a 1-1 tie with the Pioneers. It’s clearly a rivalry that means a lot to Wyatt and her teammates and it had been three years since the Highlanders beat Providence before Tuesday night.
“Beating Providence is a big thing because they’re our local rival,” Wyatt said. “I was upset about [tying Providence last year], so this year it gave us motivation to beat them. We came out focused and were ready to beat them.”
“Providence has been taking it to us for several regular-season games,” Floyd Central coach Lewie Stevens said. “It’s great to get the monkey off our back.”
Smith said he believes both teams will use Tuesday’s matchup as motivation going forward.
“You can make your own momentum,” he said. “If I’m them, then I use this as a boost. If I’m us, I use it as incentive.”
With the game tied 1-1, Miller found out-battled Providence’s Taylor Hunton for the possession. Miller appeared to have a shot, but she decided to pass to Wyatt, who had been unusually quiet for the first 70 minutes.
Wyatt beat a Pioneer defender and blasted a shot past Pioneer goalkeeper Autumn Meyer to give the HIghlanders the lead for good at 2-1.
“Christin got the ball and I thought she was going to shoot it,” Wyatt recalled. “I saw two girls coming up on her and she passed me the ball. I took my first touch and I shot it and it went in. That was the best feeling ever because it put us up 2-1.”
“I was dribbling down and the [defender] came on me,” Miller added. “They were backed up toward the goal because they thought I was going to shoot it. Lauren was at the top of the arc. I just passed it back to her and she was open.”
Stevens said that before Tuesday’s effort, he had been disappointed in the Wyatt-Miller combo that he knows can be lethal.
“They have not been staying connected and combining,” Stevens said. “One way to get a goal is for them to stay connected. They did it and it yielded great results.”
“Since we both play up top, we’re expected to follow each other, so we can do give-and-gos and stuff,” Miller said. “She has a strong kick.”
Seven minutes after Wyatt’s goal, Miller got her chance to score and put the game away. Mckenzie Garringer played the ball across the box to Miller, whose touch went between Meyer’s legs for a 3-1 advantage.
After a scoreless first half, the Highlanders came out on fire on the second half, forcing Meyer to make a pair of nice saves to keep the score at 0-0. Eight minutes into the half, Presley Roos was able to get one by Meyer.
Roos dribbled down the baseline following a corner kick. She didn’t appear to have the angle to beat Meyer, but her shot found the top-left corner of the goal.
“Nobody came to me and I just touched it in the box and put it in the corner [of the goal],” Roos said of her third goal of the season.
“It was a little concerning. We didn’t think that was the best angle,” Stevens said. “But that play is designed to free her up off of a corner kick in that area of the field. She’s got a green light to do what she wants with it.”
Eight minutes later, Providence sophomore Emma Roesner arched the ball over Floyd keeper Jessica Coryell from 25 yards away to even the match with 24:15 to play.
“It came all of the sudden,” Roesner said. “I don’t always get an opportunity to take shots from beyond the [18-foot box] and I just took the shot and it sailed over her head.”
“She got a little space and was able to turn. The keeper was off her line a bit and she shot high and it went in,” Smith recalled. “It was a great shot.”
There was no scoring in the first half, but the ball did cross the goal line once for Providence. A deflected corner kick was knocked into the goal by Pioneer junior Sarah Posante, but the goal was disallowed by the officials, who said Coryell was fouled on the play. It was the second straight season in the series that a Pioneer goal was disallowed because of a foul on a corner kick.
“I think the ground caused the loose ball,” Smith said. “The linesman saw it differently. He thought there was a bump. It would have been nice to have a lead, but that wasn’t the deciding factor in the game.”
Providence (6-2) hosts Presentation Academy on Thursday in its next contest. The Highlanders (5-1-1) are off until Saturday when they Columbus East squad.
FLOYD CENTRAL 3, PROVIDENCE 1
Floyd Central 0 3—3
Providence 0 1—1
F — Presley Roos (unassisted), 43rd min.
P — Emma Roesner (unassisted), 51st.
F — Lauren Wyatt (Christin Miller), 73rd.
F — Miller (Wyatt), 79th.
Shots — Floyd Central 17, Providence 8.
Shots on goal — Floyd Central 7, Providence 4.
Scoring chances — Floyd Central 9, Providence 7.
Saves — Floyd Central: Jessica Coryell 3; Providence: Autumn Meyer 4.
Corner kicks — Floyd Central 3, Providence 6.
Fouls — Floyd Central 6, Providence 4.
Yellow Cards — Floyd Central: Miller.