The seven seniors in West Lafayette’s girls soccer program are accustomed to regional dominance.
But to ensure another successful state tournament, the Red Devil veterans were expected to bring along 13 underclassmen — four of whom were entrusted with starting spots.
“All of the seniors’ positive attitudes and willingness to help the underclassmen is just really helpful,” sophomore defender Jordyn Whaley said.” We’re just one big team.”
Behind a pair of goals from senior Erin Brophy and another shutdown defensive performance, West Lafayette defended its home field and its Class A regional title with a 2-0 victory over Hamilton Heights at the West Lafayette Soccer Complex on Saturday.
The Red Devils (12-7) won their third straight regional title and became the seventh program with 10 regional championships. The last three have come against Hamilton Heights by a combined score of 14-0.
West Lafayette plays the winner of tonight’s regional final between Westview (15-4) and Argos (12-6-1) in next Saturday’s Argos Semistate semifinals.
“This year we had a really young team, so to have them have this experience is really good their first year,” Brophy said. “This is really going to give us momentum up through the next competitions next weekend and hopefully the next weekend after that.”
Shelby Mann, who came into the game tied with MacKenzie Staton for West Side’s single-season goals record with 33, drew a lot of attention from the Huskies. Brophy capitalized in the box.
After a scoreless first half, Brophy nudged a pass from Hayley Karpick past the line in the 53rd minute to give the Red Devils a 1-0 lead. With under 12 minutes to play, Brophy finished off a Kylie Tracanna corner kick for a 2-0 cushion.
“She’s very good on the ball and she can create opportunities,” WL coach Aaron Blessing said. “The first goal she scored today, a lot of players in that position would have just like blasted it. But she kind of tucked it away and finished it — a little pass into the goal.
“She’s very smart; she’s very good with the ball. It’s very difficult to defend that when you have more than one player who can score goals for you.”
That slim lead stood up thanks to the continued excellence of the Red Devils’ defense. Speedy Hamilton Heights forwards Sierra Welch and Amanda Freeman challenged the West Lafayette backfield early, but the Huskies put only three shots on goal.
West Lafayette has not allowed a goal in four state tournament games and has won seven of its last eight games overall, with all seven victories coming via shutout.
“I think it’s just pure will — they just really, really want to get it,” Brophy said. “We have a really great goalkeeper, Emily Field. She’s just fantastic. She’s really stepped it up this year, and the same with our center backs. One’s a freshman, one’s a sophomore, and that goes to show they’ve really worked hard that they haven’t let in a goal. That’s something they should be proud of.”