The high school soccer state tournament begins today. Here are four things to watch:
1. Will Carmel reach a new level of success this year?
Carmel’s boys and girls are ranked No. 1 in Class 2A. Since soccer became an Indiana High School Athletic Association-sanctioned sport for the 1994-95 school year, only Evansville Memorial in 2008 won both titles in the same year.
Carmel girls coach Frank Dixon said the youth programs in the Hamilton County develop players starting as young as 4 and they get good coaching throughout their careers. That’s why, to him, this year isn’t much different than the others.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily this particular year,” said Dixon, who led Carmel to its ninth state title last year. “Almost every year, I’m confident we can go a long way.”
Carmel is in a sectional with No. 10 Westfield, No. 11 Zionsville and No. 16 Guerin Catholic, but tough matchups are nothing new for the Greyhounds. Dixon said every team Carmel played in last year’s state tournament was ranked. Dixon’s team is 10-0-1 against ranked teams this year.
“There’s something to be said for playing difficult teams all the way,” he said. “But you have to win them. That’s the catch.”
The Carmel boys team will open against host Lebanon on Wednesday.
2. What’s the toughest sectional?
While the Carmel girls sectional has a strong argument. No. 2 Hamilton Southeastern, No. 8 Fishers and No. 9 Noblesville are in the same sectional at Noblesville.
Hamilton Southeastern plays Fishers on Tuesday, with the winner playing Anderson in the semifinal Thursday. Noblesville got a bye to the semifinals against Pendleton Heights on Thursday. The final is Saturday.
3. What do we know about Class A No. 1 Guerin Catholic’s boys?
The Golden Eagles (15-0-2) will host University on Wednesday to start sectional play. The high-powered offense, led by Tommy Hinkebein (26 points) and George Poppas (21 points), averages three goals per match. Opponents had scored just seven goals against the Golden Eagles through Friday, and no team had scored more than once.
4. How about the Hamilton Heights girls?
The Huskies won the Mid-Indiana Conference title for the 13th year in a row. Travis Kauffman’s squad is 14-1-1 and ranked No. 5 in Class A. The Huskies open sectional play today in Sheridan against Eastern (Greentown). Amanda Freeman has 20 goals and 16 assists, while Annie Bates has 18 goals and 17 assists.