by Beau Wicker
Logansport’s girls soccer team had its chances to keep the game close against a favored Marion squad Thursday night at the Class 2A Kokomo Sectional.
But the Berries just missed on some opportunities while the Giants capitalized on some nifty goals to pull away for a 4-0 win.
The Giants (12-2-1), who last won the sectional two years ago, face Western on Saturday night for the sectional title. The Berries finish 7-8.
“We had chances in the first 30 seconds of the game. We had the ball two feet from the corner of the goal,” Logan coach Todd Reiff said. “We just couldn’t finish. We had plenty of opportunities.
“I told the girls I couldn’t be prouder of them. I thought they played extremely aggressive. They finished the year playing like I knew they were able to play. They were speeding to the ball, they were aggressive, they were physical, they went to the 50/50s.”
When the game was still tied, Whitney Jennings just missed on a line-drive direct kick from 40 yards out that went a foot over the net 20 minutes in.
Marion freshman Jaeda Manuel then connected from 18 just beyond a diving Jennings to get the Giants on the board two minutes later. Katie Rittenhouse then ripped in a goal with her left just four minutes later to make it 2-0.
The Berries nearly scored with 2:30 left in the first half when Ashley Spear muscled through a shot in the box. Mallory Rowe nearly scored on the rebound.
Reiff said that Spear’s shot actually crossed the goal line and should have been counted.
“We had two girls standing there watching it, watched it cross. They learned a valuable lesson, don’t take any chances, make sure it hits the back of the net. The bottom line, he missed it,” Reiff said.
Samantha Deidrich scored on a penalty kick with 18 minutes left in the game to give the Giants a commanding 3-0 lead. Rhoni Rumple scored off a deflection in the box with 6:33 remaining to cap off the scoring.
The Berries had a number of near misses. Jennings had at least three difficult shots that just missed.
“We had a game of inches tonight,” Reiff said.
The Logan coach also thought the officials missed what should have been a red card on a Spear fastbreak in the second half.
“There’s a rule right now that when you cause a foul that takes away a goal, it should be a red card. There is no doubt when Ashley had her breakaway, she was going to the net and they tripped her. ... It stopped the goal, she got a yellow card, but in my opinion if you read the rules if the goal doesn’t happen it’s a red and if the goal happens it’s a yellow,” Reiff said. “If it’s a red then you’re playing a player down.”
The game marked the end of Jennings’ soccer career. The Miss Basketball candidate finished with 28 goals this season, which is possibly the second most in school history.
Reiff said Megan Whitcomb scored 19 or 20 goals for the North Central Conference championship team in 2007.
The school record is owned by Gayle Nesper, who scored 51 goals in 1994 which is the second most in state history. The state record is owned by Brown County’s Kami Graber, who scored 52 in 2010. Graber now plays at Purdue Calumet.
Reiff noted that when Nesper scored 51 goals high school girls soccer was still in its infancy in Indiana.
“It wasn’t comparable to what Whitney did for us this year,” Reiff said.
Another factor was Jennings was moved back to defense at the end of the year after the Berries had struggled giving up too many goals. The move definitely seemed to help the team but it took away some of Jennings’ goal-scoring prowess.
Jennings tried to lead the team to an upset win but it wasn’t to be.
“Marion’s a good team. We definitely battled them a lot better tonight than we did during the season [a 6-1 loss],” she said. “We played with a lot more heart I thought. It’s tough to see it end.
“It’s a great group of girls. Todd and Neil [Muller] have been great coaches. I’m fortunate to have been part of the team the last four years. It’s been a big part of my life and so it’s sad to see it ending but it’s time to move on.”
Reiff praised the team chemistry of this year’s Berries squad.
“They were an absolute joy to coach,” he said.