McCutcheon laid out a game plan to make sure Harrison junior Katie Musi constantly felt the defensive pressure.
The Mavericks executed the plan to perfection, frustrating Musi and the Raiders to repeat as Class 2A sectional champions with a 3-0 victory Saturday afternoon.
“Practices these past few weeks, we’ve been stressing defense and not letting their forwards like Katie Musi, because she is so fast, get through,” senior Rachel Williams said. “We practiced stepping to the players, so I think that’s why we kept Katie out of the game.”
Harrison had its own defensive plan that worked well, but a few early breakdowns led to the Mavericks (11-4-2) getting on the board three times in the first 16 minutes.
McCutcheon advances to Wednesday’s Logansport Regional to face Jay County, which won the Yorktown Sectional.
The Raiders got just three shots on goal, two of which were contested by a defender. Caitlin Lineback made three saves for her eighth shutout of the season.
“We knew we had to play the best defense we did all year, and I think we did a pretty good job,” senior Kaitlyn Denson said.
In addition to Musi, the Mavericks wanted to make sure to close out on talented sophomore forward Sydney Rainey and senior midfielder Ryley Bugay.
“They have really hard shots, so we knew if we gave them even a little bit of space they were going to take it,” Denson said. “We wanted to stay and give them as much pressure as we can so they can’t get any easy shots off.”
McCutcheon scored seven minutes in when senior speedster Elizabeth Burton beat the defense down the field and blasted a one-on-one opportunity past Raider keeper Sofia Ballotti. Six minutes later, senior Cassie Smith scored and nearly three minutes later, the Mavericks went up 3-0 when Rachel Williams took a free kick near midfield and booted it into the upper corner.
“It was an even match,” Harrison senior Sydney Gray said. “We were nervous in the beginning and we gave them some fluke goals. But we came back and we played with heart, and that is all I can ask of my team.”