Mater Dei outlasts Patriots in girls sectional final

Special to The Herald

EVANSVILLE — Heritage Hills coach Andy Fischer knows luck plays a role in the postseason and a break here or there might mean the difference between advancing or the season's sudden end.

After a highly contested 80 minutes, luck fell on the opposite side for Fischer and the Patriots as Mater Dei beat Heritage Hills 1-0 in the Class 2A girls soccer sectional championship Saturday.

"We just couldn't find the back of the net," Fischer said. "The girls played their hearts out. You couldn't ask for a better team, just going for each other the entire time, but luck fell on Mater Dei's side tonight."

Heritage Hills was aggressive early and within the first 10 minutes of the match, the Patriots had four shot attempts, but each attempt went wide. 

As the game progressed, Mater Dei began to take control of possession and with 19:21 left in the second half, the Wildcats broke through when Ellsa Bonnell scored to give Mater a 1-0 lead. 

"It was one of those things where the ball squirted out and the girl had the right place at the right time," Fischer said. "We had her marked, it just kind of fell at her feet and she put it in. We were there, it was just one of those things that happens in soccer."

Haley Osborne said the goal came from miscommunication.

"Their wing cut it back and then went to the endline," Osborne said. "She crossed it and with miscommunication in the box, it went in."

That goal ended a special season for Heritage Hills, which went unbeaten in the Pocket Athletic Conference back-to-back seasons and finished the season 16-2.

Fischer couldn't fault his players in the loss.

"They were 100 percent prepared, they were ready to go," he said. "They knew what was at stake, they knew what type of team Mater Dei was. 

"They came out and played hard and they were ready to go but it just didn't fall our way."

Saturday's loss was the first time Osborne failed to score a goal for the Patriots after entering the match with 45 on the season to lead the team. She scored a goal against the Wildcats in a 5-3 loss in the regular season Aug. 29.

"I think I put a little pressure on myself but I try not to because I know in the end, if I'm more relaxed, I'll play better," Osborne said. "I think the team has to stay composed and work for our goals."

Despite the season-ending loss, Osborne is already looking forward to next year.

"We're coming back next year and we're going to win, we're winning sectionals," she said. "I know we're losing talented seniors, we're going to come back and win for them next year."

Fischer echoed his star player's sentiment. 

"I think the future is bright, they know what to expect now," he said. "They know they have a target on them every time they step on the field and they rise to the challenge. Proud of this team, how they push each other and want to make each other better."

More on