McCutcheon could not generate enough offense to overcome an early two-goal deficit, and Noblesville dug in for a 3-0 win in the Class 2A Kokomo Regional semifinals Thursday evening.
The Mavericks (8-10-1), coming off of a 1-0 upset of rival Harrison in the Lafayette Jeff sectional on Saturday, could not find the same magic Thursday, failing to sustain any offensive pressure against their Hoosier Crossroads Conference rival.
“Noblesville’s a good team,” McCutcheon coach Boyd Wheeler said. “I thought we had a good chance at beating these guys. Some nights are just not your night. I thought we played in the sectionals with great intensity, and we just weren’t quite at that level tonight.”
Noblesville dominated play over the first 40 minutes with a 6-1 edge in shots on goal. The Millers cracked the scoring column at the 18:47 mark when Joe Lemma headed in a perfectly launched throw-in from Max Lang.
The surprise score off the throw caught nearly everyone by surprise and gave Millers the momentum for the remainder of the half.
“Being down 1-0 isn’t bad,” Wheeler said. “We always talk about playing the full 80 minutes. Giving up a goal off of a throw-in and the guy heads it in, that’s disappointing. That’s something we’re trying to stop. It is what it is. I have to give the two young men credit for putting that in.”
Noblesville coach Brian Prange said the goal seemed to give the Millers the lift they needed.
“Both teams were emotional over the first five minutes,” Prange said. “After about 10 minutes, we started to settle down and find the gaps we were looking for. Once Max started to get involved with his throw-ins, our team started knocking the balls down and pressuring.”
Lang assisted on Noblesville’s second goal as well, this time finding Micah Smith for an open shot to give the Millers a 2-0 edge with 16:08 left in the half.
“Noblesville came out and did a little better job of distributing the ball and they had a better first touches,” Wheeler said. “We had a difficult time generating any kind of offense, and that was because of our first touches and distributing the ball.”
Any hope of a comeback was dashed when McCutcheon’s Jake Shake received a red card for an altercation with Noblesville’s Sam Riester with 21:30 left in the game. It left Riester with a bloody broken nose, and he had to be escorted off the field by trainers.
Down a man, though, the Mavericks did not give up a goal as it outshot Noblesville 3-1 over the second half.