CARMEL — Eventually, something was going to give between the Brebeuf Jesuit and Guerin Catholic girls. And if someone was going to make it happen, who better than Brebeuf’s Alia Martin?
Martin, the premier scoring force for the Class 2A No. 4 Braves, dribbled up and ended the scoreless drought on a close-range shot less than 2 minutes into the second half, seizing the game’s first payoff after a heavily contested first 40 minutes.
Later in the half, the duty once again fell to Martin on a penalty kick after being knocked down while airborne — neither the first nor last knock-down hit of the game. And once more, Martin found her spot and drilled it in to give the Braves (20-1-1) all the lead they would need to claim a 2-0 victory over the Golden Eagles (8-8-1) for their second straight regional championship Saturday afternoon.
“She steps up all the time,” Brebeuf coach Angela Berry White said said of Martin, last year’s IndyStar Girls Soccer Player of the Year. “We might be in a practice and her team is down and she wants to win. That’s her nature, that’s how she’s wired. It takes somebody special to do that.”
Again and again through the first half, the Braves pressed the Golden Eagles back into their own zone and tested their defense with numerous shots. And each time, Guerin pushed back, including clearing three consecutive corner kicks with brilliant defensive headers along with goalkeeping by senior Chandler Edwards.
Edwards, who missed Wednesday night’s game with a back injury, played tough as ever and kept the game even for nearly 42 minutes. But Brebeuf benefitted from having what Berry White calls two “starters” in goal, one for each half.
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Every time the Guerin attackers pressed hard into the Brebeuf zone, the Braves defenders seemed to step up. Like when junior midfielder Alexa Holl stepped between the goal and a speeding shot minutes after Brebeuf took the lead, blocking it with her body and clearing it cleanly.
“We had a different team in August,” Brebeuf coach Angela Berry White said. “We had different starters, we had different people playing different positions. It’s taken us awhile to find our groove, and knowing this is our ninth shutout (this year), we’ve been harping on that in terms of, defensively, we’re not going to waver anymore.”
Give it to Guerin, though; not once until the final seconds ran off the clock did the Golden Eagles stop fighting with a determination that, by Saturday afternoon, should no longer be surprising. They did, after all, defeat the Nos. 2 and 3 teams in the state to make it this far.
“We didn’t do anything worth noting in the first 40 minutes today, but we come back and we were dangerous enough in the box to maybe steal a result today,” Guerin coach Jonathan McClure said. “That’s all you can do: Put yourself in a position to get a result that you want, and we did that. I know the score is 2-0, but we did exactly what we wanted to do.”
As defending state champions, the Braves now must hold tough under the pressure of being one of — if not, the — team to beat heading into the final three rounds of the state tournament.
But considering the Braves have outscored opponents 19-0 combined through four postseason games, don’t expect them to let off the gas any time soon.
“I’d definitely say this is the best we’ve been playing all year,” Martin said.
Follow IndyStar reporter Jordan J. Wilson on Twitter: @Wilsonable07. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .