MOUNT VERNON — With a talented roster replete with underclassmen, the first state-tournament berth in the history of Mount Vernon girls’ soccer may only be a matter of time.
The young Mustangs get their chance on Monday.
“I’m very excited,” Mount Vernon freshman forward Maia Bentley said after the 13th-ranked Mustangs eliminated Independence, 3-1, in a Class 2A regional semifinal Tuesday at home. “If we all play together and bring our chemistry every game, I think we can go very far.”
Mount Vernon (13-4), winner of 11 of its last 12 matches, will need to get through No. 2 Waverly-Shell Rock (14-1), the defending state runner-up with 13 state-tournament appearances in its history.
The regional final is Monday at 6 in Waverly.
“As long as they play their game,” Mount Vernon Coach Kate Murray said of her players. “Just pass and move, different combinations. I think we can stay up there with anybody.”
The semifinal victory was called due to weather with 23:21 left in regulation. By that time, Mount Vernon had responded to an early 1-0 deficit with three goals in a 21-minute span.
Mount Vernon freshman Anna Hoffman tied the match at 1-1 by corralling a blocked shot from Bentley and punching it past the Independence goalkeeper in the 23rd minute.
With less than three minutes until halftime, sophomore Emma Rodman — who led Mount Vernon with 15 goals last season — broke the tie for good with her 13th goal this season.
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The go-ahead score was a treasured moment of jubilation for Rodman, who has missed time this season with right-ankle injuries, only to miss a decent chunk of the first half Tuesday with a painful-looking left-ankle ailment.
“It is the best feeling in the world, honestly,” Rodman said. “Playing in games that matter and winning and scoring and getting up, that is amazing.”
Less than four minutes into the second half, Bentley continued her fantastic freshman campaign with a valuable insurance goal that pushed her into a tie for third in all of 2A with 30 goals this season.
“It is credit a lot to these guys, too,” Bentley said. “I get a lot of very good balls from everyone on the team, so that helps a lot.”
The Mount Vernon defense, led by fearless freshman Avery Plathe, a vocal senior leader in Sammy Moss and senior speedster Quinnie Rodman, helped hold Independence scoreless over the final 50 minutes in front of Grace Krapfl, a do-everything senior who has switched to goalkeeper because of injuries.
“We just had to stay really calm and just play our game,” Plathe said. “You just have to take possession and after that, it is just try to put it in the goal.”
Payton Ruckdaschel scored her team-high 19th goal this season for Independence, which ends its season at 10-9.
CLASS 2A REGIONAL SEMIFINAL
No. 13 Mount Vernon 3, Independence 1
Goals — IND: Payton Ruckdaschel (19); MV: Anna Hoffman (20), Emma Rodman (13), Maia Bentley (30).
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