Pioneers graduate 13 standout seniors off this year's 18-3-1 squad
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Providence entered Saturday’s Class 1A state championship match a winner in its past 13 games by a combined score of 64-3. The Pioneers’ bout with defending champion Mishawaka Marian, though, proved to be a different story.
The Knights (18-5) held a 1-0 advantage at halftime – the first score allowed by Providence since Sept. 13 – and used three second-half goals to secure a convincing win over the Pioneers (18-3-1) at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium in Indianapolis.
Providence fired 10 shots on goal to the Knights’ seven, but Mishawaka Marian’s spacing allowed for cleaner scoring opportunities. Providence coach Nathan Marshall said the Pioneers controlled the game well in the first half outside of a questionable Knights goal with 6:36 left in the period.
“We were working the ball, we were getting opportunities, we just weren’t finishing,” Marshall said. “The same thing showed in the second half. … But credit goes to (Mishawaka Marian). That’s a good team. Their style challenged us.”
It was a chess match throughout the first half, but the Knights broke through with less than seven minutes to spare in the period. Mishawaka Marian’s Roberto Ontiveros appeared to be offside on a header following a free kick, but the score was allowed and the Knights took a one-goal lead into the break.
Providence’s Nick Berry, a senior defender and the recipient of the 1A boys soccer Mental Attitude Award following the game Saturday, said the Knights’ spacing caught the Pioneers off guard.
“We’re used to teams playing a little more compact, a little bit back. They were really spread out, which, especially for me as a center-back, they were pushing up on us a little more,” Berry said. “Little bit harder to deal with that.”
The Knights carried their momentum into the second half, as a Jordan Morris goal extended Mishawaka Marian’s lead to 2-0 a minute and a half into the period. Morris added another with 19:27 remaining.
A Providence free kick with 15 minutes left sailed off the crossbar, and a follow attempt was stuffed by the Mishawaka Marian goalkeeper – a sequence descriptive of the Pioneers’ outing.
“It just wasn’t their day,” Marshall said.
The Knights made the final score with a little help from Mother Nature. With less than 15 minutes left, a gust of wind caught Johnathan Tavarez’ deep attempt, which then floated over the head of Providence goalkeeper JD Castleberry – sealing the team’s second straight 1A state title. They’ll move to 2A next year due to the IHSAA’s Tournament Success Factor.
The Pioneers graduate 13 seniors – half the squad – off this year’s team, including Berry, Castleberry, Eli Coker, Braden Rainier, Kevin Chrisco, Connor Van Hook, Cole Corby, Michael Hayes and Alex Rogers.
Coker finished the season with 31 goals, good for 12th in the state, and 12 assists while Rainier found the back of the net 23 times. Chrisco recorded a team-high 18 assists. The Pioneers allowed just 13 goals all season prior to Saturday’s final.
“These boys, they mean a hell of a lot to this program and to me, personally,” Marshall said. “It’s been a lot of fun watching them over the past four years. As good as they are as players, they’re even better as people and individuals. They’re going to be tough to replace.”