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Indians advance, Eagles fall in sectional

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DRIVE: Mississinewa's Alayna Webb drives past a Maconaquah defender during the Indians' 4-3 win in the first round of Class 2A Sectional 21 Tuesday at Northwestern.
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INDIANS: Mississinewa's Taylor Ulerick intently watches as her shot sails towards the goal early in Tuesday's match with Maconaquah. That shot would eventually get past the Braves' keeper, one of two goals for Ulerick in the Indians' 4-3 Class 2A Sectional 21 win at Northwestern.
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PRESSURE: Oak Hill's Abby Strange applies defensive pressure against Northwestern's Sarah Smith in the opening game of Class 2A Sectional 21 on Tuesday. The host-Tigers used a pair of goals scored 1:09 apart in the first half to eliminate the Golden Eagles, 2-1.
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EAGLES: Oak Hill's Tegan Phillips (9) fends off Northwestern's Ashlyn Markley during the second half of the Eagles' 2-1 loss to the host-Tigers in the opening game of Class 2A Sectional 21 on Tuesday. Phillips scored the lone goal for Oak Hill.

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

KOKOMO — Separation on the pitch was minimal during the two opening round matches in Class 2A girls soccer Sectional 21 Tuesday evening at Northwestern High School.The two one-goal matches spelled the end of the season for one Grant County team, while another earned a win to move into the semifinals on Thursday.Mississinewa fought off a determined effort by Maconaquah in the second match of the evening, getting pair of goals from juniors Alayna Webb and Taylor Ulerick, along with a key save by freshman Savannah Herrera late in its 4-3 win over the Braves.In the opener, host Northwestern scored a pair of goals 1:09 seconds apart in the first half against Oak Hill and made them stand up in a 2-1 win over the Golden Eagles. Mississinewa and Northwestern will meet in Thursday’s first semifinal match at 5 p.m. with pre-sectional favorite and Class 2A 15th-ranked Western to battle Peru in the nightcap at 7 p.m.Ulerick got Mississinewa off to a fast start, sending a hard, spinning shot from 30-yards out towards Maconaquah goalie Lilly Scheffler in the fourth minute of the match. Scheffler got her hands on the ball but it slipped out of her grasp and through her legs and trickled into the goal giving the Indians a 1-0 lead just 3:34 after kickoff.Webb extended the Indians’ lead to 2-0 with just under 22 minutes remaining in the first half, sending a rocket off her right foot then off the post, barely eluding Scheffler’s left-handed reach.But as quickly as Mississinewa built its lead, Maconaquah’s Jolee Holland erased it even more quickly before the first half clock expired. The fleet-footed senior found space in the box and converted an assist from junior Tara Waggoner 11:47 before halftime to pare the Braves’ deficit in half.Holland then got behind the Indians’ defense and scored the equalizer in a one-on-one situation with Herrera just 2:41 before halftime and the score stood 2-2 at intermission.“She was tough. She was real tough,” said Mississinewa coach Andrea Wilson of Holland. “I feel like that was basically their scoring opportunities when she had a breakaway so we talked about that at halftime like we can’t give her anything.“We stuck Amiah (Lewis), which is my number one (defender) on her because she has speed,” she added. “I told her you do nothing else but stop her from getting a breakaway.”For most of the second half that strategy was effective for Mississinewa. Maconaquah’s defense was equally effective for nearly the first 20 minutes of the second half as well.Ulerick again put Ole Miss on top, beating Scheffler for the second time with with 20:09 to play and giving the indians a 3-2 advantage.“My word for her is reckless. She just has no fear whatsoever,” Wilson said of Ulerick. “It doesn’t matter if it’s gonna hurt, she’s going to run through it and you can’t teach that.  Kids either have it or they don’t and she’s got it. She’s got that fight.  She wants the ball.Webb’s second goal gave the  Indians some insurance and it turned out to ultimately be the game winner. Webb hit another screaming shot on a corner kick that ricocheted off a Maconaquah defender and into the net staking Ole Miss to a seemingly insurmountable, 4-2 advantage with 15:55 to play.However Holland wasn’t finished just yet. She took a pass from Kaylin Teegardin with a step on the Indians’ defense and found the net past Herrera at the 4:56 mark to pull the Braves within 4-3. Only 90 seconds remained when Holland again got behind Mississinewa’s defense and sent a shot on goal from the top of the 18, however this time Herrera smothered it to preserve the Indians’ lead and eventual win. “Jo is our offensive attacking and we are really going to miss her next year. We’re going to miss all of our seniors,” said Braves first-year coach Colin Quin. “We graduate eight and all of them play a part on this team, Jo especially. … She’s an amazing talent and we’re doing everything we can to get her playing at the next level. I don’t think this should be her last game.”It was a tale of two halves for Oak Hill in its loss to Northwestern. A sluggish first half, or at least for 30 of the opening 40 minutes, proved costly for the Golden Eagles.The Tigers controlled possession and spent a lot of time testing Eagles’ goalie Sierra Bakehorn in the first half, putting nine of their 11 shots on goal and finding the net twice in short order.Sarah Castillo used an Emma O’Dell assist for the game’s first goal only 14:03 in to put Northwestern on top, then just 1:09 later, Castillo had the helper on Joan Easter’s goal and the Tigers were quickly in front, 2-0.“I have no idea what happened there at the beginning of the first half. I have no idea how they got those back to back goals (snaps fingers twice) that quick,” said Oak Hill coach Alex Kenworthy. “But unfortunately we couldn’t play our way out of it at that point. We tried.”The Golden Eagles managed six shots on goal in the first half and cut their deficit in half before the match reached intermission, albeit with a bit of good fortune.Abby Strange sent a high arching pass into the box in Carlee Biddle’s direction. Northwestern goalie Kaitlyn Lagoni arrived at the bounding ball before Biddle could get a touch, but a Tiger defender collided with Lagoni and both fell to the ground. Tegan Phillips tracked down the loose ball and guided it into an empty net to pull Oak Hill within 2-1 7:31 before halftime.That score would remain the same over the duration of the contest though the Eagles applied much more pressure in the second half.Oak Hill put six more shots on goal over the closing 40 minutes, but Lagoni was up to the task on each one. Bakehorn needed to make just two saves in the second half and Northwestern managed just three shots during that span. “When they got their goals it was a couple defensive breakdowns. I thought I had a decent (pregame) pep talk. I thought the seniors had a decent conversation,” Kenworthy said. “We stepped on the field and we were watching everything happen. It was a very unusual dynamic at the beginning of the game. I’m not sure what was going on, but we woke up just a little too late.”