SEYMOUR — New Albany’s girls soccer team had the vibe of a team confident it could pull off the upset of rival Floyd Central in Tuesday’s first-round matchup in the Class 3A Seymour Sectional.
The Bulldogs’ high energy play in the first half equated to quality scoring opportunities but they couldn’t finish them off as Floyd Central keeper Shelby Smith came up with four big saves to help the Highlanders escape the first half in a 0-0 tie.
“We normally put away those opportunities,” New Albany coach Drew Stein said. “We had about four breakaways and, all season long, those have been sure things. With them getting out of that without getting any in ... I feel for our girls. They played hard. When those breakaways didn’t go in — and we stayed positive at halftime — when they got a couple in quick, it was tough.”
The second 40 minutes was a different story. For Highlanders' fans, it was a page turner that concluded with a 3-0 victory.
The Highlanders’ Spencer Freiberger set up Audrey Brumfield with a short touch in front of the goal and Brumfield finished it off.
“It was just we always work on that killer pass. We pray that somebody’s there to take that shot. Audrey had the perfect timing run this time,” Freiberger said.
It started during halftime discussion, coach Lewie Stevens said, and continued with the play of senior Katie Yankey, who brought a determined approach into the teeth of New Albany's defense.
Yankey scored unassisted 15 minutes into the action and again with 18 minutes remaining off a pass from Olivia Hartz.
“We were looking to find opportunities to combine for success and, in the second half, the kids were doing a good job moving away from the ball and creating opportunities. It was good to see them rally — and it was mostly led by the kids — they said they didn’t want this to be their last game. So that was nice to see,” Stevens said.
New Albany had the occasional counter in the second half but nothing like the first half. The Bulldogs a strong season finished 9-3-2 and will graduate six seniors — Londyn Riley, Jessica Renner, Madison Myers, Bella Crist and Hannah Lynch.
“I think their combination play just got better,” Stein said of the Highlanders. “They got a couple good combinations and they were able to finish.”
Freiberger was impressed by the Bulldogs’ tenacity but also by her team’s ability to rally.
“They came out wanting to win. We didn’t really expect it at all. The second half we picked it up, got our mindsets together and finished,” Freiberger said.
The Highlanders (11-4-2) will take on a Seymour (10-6-2) squad that they tied 0-0 during the regular season at 5 p.m. Thursday in the first semifinal. Jeffersonville will face Jennings County in the second semi.
“We thought Shelby Smith came up huge in the first half. New Albany had several one-on-none’s and handled the pressure. I don’t think she touched the ball at all in the second half. It was a tale of two halves,” Stevens said.
CLASS 3A SEYMOUR SECTIONAL
New Albany 0 0 — 0
Floyd Central 0 3 — 3
FC — Audrey Brumfield (Spencer Freiberger), 30:22
FC — Katie Yankey, 25:49
FC — Yankey (Olivia Hartz), 18:41
Records: New Albany finishes its season 9-3-2. Floyd Central (11-4-2) plays Seymour on Thursday in the semifinals of the Class 4A Seymour Sectional.