The '02B-Reina and '04G-Paisley traveled to Indianapolis this past weekend for the annual Red Lion Invitational. The boys had their hands full moving up three brackets into the Premier Division of the tournament. On a cold Saturday morning, the boys took on St. Francis Elite SC from Indiana (ranked #7 in IN). An evenly matched game saw some great opportunities for both sides with especially great saves from goalie Jacob Travers. A late controversial penalty kick gave St. Francis the 1-0 win, but the boys showed they could hang with anyone.
The afternoon did not get any easier with a match against powerhouse SASA Spirits from Springfield, IL (ranked #20 in IL). Wayea Hallowanger scored first on a header for the Reds as the boys utilized a quick counterattack to surprise the Spirits. A 1-1 halftime score gave the boys a chance, but SASA came out hard in the second half and scored on two quick set plays. Jacob Travers added a penalty kick goal for a 2-6 loss to the eventual tournament runner-up. SASA only gave up two other goals for the entire tourney.
After a good night's rest, the boys came out swinging against Kentucky Commonwealth SC (ranked #13 in KY) gaining possession for much of the first half. A set play from Commonwealth saw the boys down 1-0 at half. A quick breakaway opened the second half and put the boys down 2-0. On tired legs, the Reds did not give up and pulled even on an amazing free kick goal from 30 yards out by Aldo Estrada. With 5 minutes left, Estrada broke into the box on a great individual play and was brought down for a PK. The Commonwealth goalie made an amazing one-handed save on the ensuing PK that saw the ball rebound off his hand, then the crossbar, and back into his hands, sealing the final 1-2 loss.
The girls opened tournament play against the Indiana Fire, a mountain of a team. The girls easily played their best possession game of the year, moving the bal all around the field with strong midfield play from Laine Wilhelm and Katie Weber. Ella Esson opened the scoring with a beautiful run, of many, down the right wing. The game went into half 1-1, but the Fire came out ready to play and quickly scored off a corner kick to make it 2-1. The girls kept possesion and then Wilhelm took it upon herself to beat four defenders off the dribble, including a final juke of the goalie, before sliding the ball into the open net for a 2-2 draw.
The girls swam all day and came back for an evening match against perrenial powerhouse Kentucky Commonwealth SC (ranked #13 in KY). Esson again had her way with the left side of the defense, making run after run while shedding arms, elbows and hands along the way. She finally broke through with a shot to the upper right to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. A breakaway by Commonwealth saw the game tied 1-1 at half. It looked like the game was headed for a draw when Weber smoked a shot from 25 yards out threw the entire defense and into the inside right of the net for a 2-1 lead. The goal lifted the girls spirits and they dominated the final 10 minuted nefore Ella McAleenan took a pass from Wilhelm and buried it past the goalie for a 3-1 victory.
After celebrating Coach Weber's birthday at the hotel, the girls needed a draw or tie against Ohio Greater Toledo FC to advance to the finals. The Red's defense showed up to play with Tess Hawf & Ava Doherty sweeping everything out of the defensive middle. Esson scored early and often from the right wing as she owned the Toledo back line, scoring twice. McAleenan added a final tally and Emma Storck kept the sheet clean in goal to push the girls into the finals.
The finals pitted the girls against the Indiana Fire in a rematch that would be as physical as it was exciting. Bodies were being dragged down all over the field and the Red's were on sore and tired legs for sure. The Fire scored first on a breakaway up the middle and then again two minutes later on a free kick to take a 2-0 lead into the final moments of the first half. Hanna Jachna came through for the Reds with a huge goal from 8 yards out while playing with a gimpy taed-up knee to cut the lead in half. The Fire pushed another goal in at the midway mark of the second half that looked to seal the 3-1 title for them. But, the girls kept fighting and a late left-footed gem from Carly Miofsky from 20 yards out with two defenders hanging on her gave them life at 2-3. The girls looked to tie the game with less than a minute left in regulation, but the laser strike from Wilhelm hit the crossbar. A close match to be sure left the girls runner-up in their first away tournament.