Triad girls soccer clinches regional crown
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By Anthony Jones
For the thirteenth season in a row, Triad girls soccer won an IHSA Regional last week.
Their path to a plaque started on May 19 against Jersey. In the two teams previous meetings, the Lady Knights prevailed by a combined score of 22-0.
It would only take two minutes and 37 seconds for Triad to find the net in their postseason meeting. Libby Blixt drew a penalty kick and Laney Harshany buried the attempt beneath the crossbar for a 1-0 lead.
By halftime, the home side buried 10 more shots for an 11-0 advantage. Alina Ayran led the scoring attack with a hat trick that occurred over five minutes and 21 seconds.
Caty Burton scored twice in the opening half, while Jackie Barkus, Ella George, Abby Schaft, Gabbie Wood and Sophia Bohnak all tapped one in.
Bohnak picked up her second goal early in the second half and Maddie Hunt followed her to push the Lady Knights ahead 13-0. Jersey responded with their first goal against Triad since 2019 for a 13-1 final.
Three days later, the Lady Knights closed out their home regional against Mascoutah. In their previous meeting in Troy, the home side won 1-0 in overtime.
Scoring began much earlier in their postseason meeting.
With 13:01 remaining in the first half, Burton snuck a shot underneath the crossbar to push the Lady Knights ahead 1-0. The senior captain’s tally held true for the remainder of the period.
Freshman London Looby tallied the game’s next score, as she dribbled into open space near the edge of the box to deliver a laser into the net. This left Mascoutah in a 2-0 hole with a little over 20 minutes remaining.
With three minutes remaining, Ayran set up Burton for a game-sealing goal at 3-0. Goalkeeper Tavey Duncan finished the game with a complete game shutout.
Triad coach Matt Bettlach talked about the win over a tough Indian squad, “They’re playing hard soccer right now. Those teams are tough to play against, but I thought our girls played well from the start. We moved the ball around well. In the first half, going into the wind, I thought we forced a few things but overall I’m proud of the girls.”
The Lady Knights return to action on May 23 in a 4:30 start against the hosting Marion Wildcats. Their meeting will be the third consecutive meeting between the two programs in the sectional semi-finals, with Triad winning the last two 7-0.
Bettlach has been warning his team about the extra challenge playing familiar faces in the postseason poses.
“All of these teams that we’re going to see potentially, our team has knocked out the last three to four years. So if we think that doesn’t leave a bad taste in their mouth, we’re solely mistaken. Every team wants to beat the defending 2A two-time and then everybody wants to beat you because you’ve already beaten them in the playoffs last year, so we’ll be ready,” he remarked.