By Jason Haddix
For The Herald Bulletin
NOBLESVILLE, Ind. — The normally potent Pendleton Heights offense failed to muster up much of a threat against the stingy Noblesville defense as the Millers advanced to the finals with a 3-1 victory.
Averaging just over four goals per game this season, Pendleton Heights (12-3-1) was shut out for the first half.
“They (Noblesville) played with a lot of heart, they played with a lot of intensity,” PH player Brian Wolverton said. “It was very physical…and we’re not a super physical team and they took advantage of that tonight.”
Many of the Arabians scoring chances came in the second half, as during the first half they were limited to just three shots, one of them on goal.
The best look came as Mateo Ortega and Mac Miller were working the ball deep in the Millers defense when Ortega fired a cross pass to an open Miller who was not able to field the ball cleanly.
“We just did not come out to the start we wanted — we came out a little flat the first half,” PH coach Kyle Davy said. “We stepped it up the second half and had our chances, we just could not find the back of the net.”
After halftime, the Arabians became more aggressive offensively and the number shots reflected such. They mustered up eight second-half shots, five of them on goal.
“This is it,” Davy said he told his team at halftime. “It is either win or go home. We have great senior leadership and they got them motivated.”
The lone Arabian goal came when Landon Conner turned and fired from well over 50 yards on the left side of the field. The ball trickled in as the Millers’ keeper vacated the net with just less than two seconds on the clock. It was his first goal of the season.
Noblesville held Wolverton, the Arabians top score, to no shots.
“Every time a ball would come to me I would have a guy or two on me,” Wolverton said. “They (Noblesville) did a really good job pressuring me.”
Noblesville’s first-half goals came on a 30-yard rocket off the foot of Max Lang, and then the senior found the back of the net again from just in front of the net when he was in the right spot to field a rebound and knock it in.
“I don’t want to say it was a bad night because everyone didn’t play terrible,” Wolverton said. “It was not our best night for sure.”
The early bow out for the Arabians marks the third consecutive year they have failed to get past their first game. Each was a shutout loss.
“All these schools in this sectional are top (teams) in the state,” Davy said. “Only one team will advance, it is a very tough sectional.”
Noblesville (8-5-5) will face Hamilton Southeastern (6-10-2) in the sectional championship at Noblesville’s White River Sports Complex on Saturday beginning at 3 p.m.