NOBLESVILLE — The Pendleton Heights boys soccer season came to a close Monday night as it fell to sectional host and No. 8-ranked Noblesville, 5-2.
The 5:30 p.m. game, located at White River Elementary Soccer Complex just outside of Noblesville, kicked off Sectional 8 for the Class 3A state tournament.
Within the first minute, the Arabians (8-7-1) had a handball called just inside the box. Noblesville senior midfielder Jack Miller’s name was called to take the penalty shot. He stepped up and confidently hit his spot on the left side netting, just out of the reach of Arabians goalkeeper Justin Overfield.
This led the Arabians to show they came out to play as well. Senior Daniel Aker made his mark with his first goal of the season in the ninth minute. A beautiful corner off the foot of Myles Mitchem grazed the top of his head and fell in the back of the net, tying the game.
However, Noblesville’s attacking power soon started to overwhelm the Arabians. The Millers (12-2-2) dominated possession, and the ball rarely found its way to the Pendleton Heights attacking third. It didn’t take long for Noblesville junior leading scorer Drew Barnes to find his groove. Barnes took back the lead in the 14th minute with an open look in the middle of the box.
After the Millers jumped in front, the match began to find its form. The scoring onslaught that started the game began to subside, and both teams began to focus on possessing the ball. After the fireworks in the first 15 minutes, the rest of the half saw only two shots on target for either team.
The second half became even more difficult for the Arabians. Noblesville possessed the ball with a purpose and pressured when it lost control. This forced Pendleton to play defensive and look for long runs in counter attacking situations, which it was unable to find. The pressure finally paid off for the Millers nine minutes into the second half, this time off the foot of sophomore Palmer Ault.
The Arabians broke out of their rut and started sending more people forward. Brennan Jones, a senior and the team’s leading goal scorer, was able to find some open space and slot one in the back of the net with 20 minutes left. His 10th goal on the season brought the Arabians within one.
However, Pendleton was unable to net an equalizer before time ran out. Ault added a second goal with seven minutes left, and Brendon Fisher added another in the last minute. The Millers finished up 5-2, in a game much closer than its final score. Noblesville moves on to play in the semifinal at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
“We had a pretty strong season,” said PH coach Kyle Davy. “We accomplished a lot of the goals we set for ourselves. We got a lot of younger guys next year. It’ll be exciting to see them step up in their new roles.”