By Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
LEBANON — Monroe had only just begun to celebrate Jade Gallagher’s overtime goal, and Tippecanoe coach Brandon Baker was already consoling senior captain Alyssa Toman with a big hug.
It may not have been the way the Red Devils wanted to end the season, but they didn’t go down without a fight.
The Tippecanoe girls soccer team answered twice when Monroe took the lead in the Division II regional semifinal matchup Tuesday at Lebanon Junior High School, but in the end the undefeated Hornets were able to get one final go-ahead score in the first overtime period to claim a hard-fought 3-2 victory over the Devils.
“What a great game,” Baker said. “Both teams battled until the end. We got down one goal twice and battled back. Just to get back into that game in the second half and get the game into overtime was great. The girls did not stop until the end, and that’s all I ask from them. They had a lot of heart tonight.”
With the win, Monroe — which was ranked No. 6 in the final D-II state poll — improved to 20-0 on the season and advanced to Saturday’s regional final where it will take on D-II’s top-ranked team, 19-1-1 Alter, a 3-0 winner over Oakwood in the other semifinal.
Tippecanoe, meanwhile, recovered from a 1-2-1 start to the season to finish the year 11-5-4. The Devils went 0-2-2 in the final week of the regular season, only to recover and win three straight in the postseason — including a huge 2-1 victory over Indian Hill, ranked No. 5 in the final state poll and two-time defending state champion, to win their first district championship since 2017.
“We had a great run,” Baker said. “Just a great season. We had a bad first week and bad last week of the season, but the girls put it together at the start of the tournament. We had a great run in the tournament. To come here last week and beat Indian Hill was big for us.”
Standing in the way, though, was undefeated Monroe — which Tippecanoe had defeated in the regional semifinal round in 2014 in a game played at Wright State University.
“We knew this game was going to be tough,” Baker said. “We scrimmaged them early in the year, so we knew it was going to be a tough game. And it was.”
Monroe put pressure on Tippecanoe early, but junior goalkeeper Ashlyn Tarzinski made save after save to keep the score tied. The match then turned into a transition game as both teams turned defensive stops into breaks the other way and breathlessly tried to beat each other back down the field — and Tarzinski continued to turn away every Hornet shot.
“She’s been solid back there the whole year,” Baker said of Tarzinski. “And our defense has helped with that, but having her back there, she saved a lot of goals. It’s nice to have her back for next year.”
Monroe began to swing the momentum its way, though, hitting the crossbar with a 40-yard shot with 12 minutes remaining in the first half. Tarzinski then made a diving save on a shot by Makala Woods — but with 9:13 to go in the half, Woods got the ball at midfield, carried it between two Tippecanoe players and around and past two more defenders before beating the goalie one-on-one and tapping in a shot to complete an impressive run and give the Hornets a 1-0 lead.
That lead proved to be short lived, though, as Tippecanoe answered with 6:55 left in the half. The Devils sent a long, high pass up the center of the field, and Toman stepped back and let two Monroe defenders collide with each other before running past them with the ball. She then beat the Monroe goalie one-on-one to tie the score at 1-1 — which was where things remained at halftime after a Monroe goal came just after the buzzer had sounded.
The game remained deadlocked until the 24:24 mark of the second half. Woods drew a foul just outside the box in transition, and Brooke Frazier ripped in a shot on the ensuing direct kick to put Monroe up 2-1.
Tippecanoe regained the momentum, though, and with 8:31 left in regulation, Shelby Ferguson hit a 35-yard shot that hit off the far post and went into the goal to tie the score once again at 2-2. Woods then went down with a head injury and could not return, and it seemed like the Devils were carrying all of the momentum into overtime.
And in the overtime’s first minute, the Devils had a solid chance as Toman redirected a cross by Hannah Rittenhouse — but the shot went just wide. And with 9:58 left in the period, Gallagher got free on a breakaway and was able to hit a shot over the keeper and in to give the Hornets the win.
“We did (have the momentum going into overtime),” Baker said. “And the girls felt that. We just missed the mark there and hit it over the keeper. It was a great game, and someone’s got to win and someone’s got to lose.
“I hate for it to end this way for the girls. They worked their butts off all year long. But it was good to see them battle. The girls had a great season. I hate to see the seniors play their last game. They played their butts off, but it just wasn’t our night.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at email@example.com, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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