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Trojan girls top Spartans for first win of the season

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New Castle’s Lauern Ayers (19) battles a visiting Connersville player for the ball during Saturday morning’s girls soccer game on Neal Field. Ayers scored the go-ahead goal for the host Trojans in their 3-1 victory over the Spartans.
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New Castle’s Paula Carnero (8) and Mackenzie Snyder (22) plus visiting Connersville’s Kiley Smith (4) race after the ball during Saturday morning’s girls soccer game on Neal Field. The host Trojans picked up their first victory of the season with their 3-1 win over the Spartans.
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New Castle goal keeper Makenzie Bridgeman boots the ball down the field during Saturday morning’s girls soccer game against visiting Connersville on Neal Field. Bridgeman recorded eight saves in the host Trojans’ 3-1 win over the Spartans.
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New Castle’s Abby Hamilton attempts a free kick during Saturday morning’s girls soccer game against visiting Connersville on Neal Field. Hamilton scored on a penalty kick and got an assist on a goal by Sarah Gerth after a free kick in the Trojans’ 3-1 win over the Spartans.
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New Castle’s Cloie York (3) attempts to keep the ball away from a visiting Connersville player during Saturday morning’s girls soccer match on Neal Field. The host Trojans got their first win of the season with a 3-1 victory over the Spartans.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

After playing four consecutive games on the road against very good competition, the New Castle High School girls soccer team returned home Saturday morning for a game against Connersville on Neal Field.

This contest was rescheduled after being postponed on Aug. 20, and the host Trojans took advantage of the friendly surroundings to come from behind and post a 3-1 victory over the Spartans.

It was the first win of the season for the New Castle girls and the initial victory for Sarah York as the Trojans’ head coach. New Castle improved to 1-6 for the season.

“It feels awesome to get my first win as head coach,” New Castle Coach Sarah York said afterward. “I knew it was coming sometime and I’m glad it was today. Our girls did a fantastic job of dominating play in the second half after a frustrating first half when we didn’t score. I’m really proud of all of them.”

Four of the Trojans six losses have been to tough Hoosier Heritage Conference teams, but playing that competition may have helped the hosts in Saturday’s victory as New Castle dominated play in the second half.

The Trojans were scoreless during the initial 40 minutes of the contest which Connersville grabbed the early advantage on a penalty kick by junior Elise Matney, and the Spartans carried that 1-0 lead into intermission.

The skies remained cloudy during the second half, but New Castle’s fortunes brightened considerably.

The Trojans started the final period pressing the attack but weren’t rewarded immediately. A ball kicked by New Castle’s Mackenzie Snyder sailed over the Connersville goal at the 38:03 mark. Attempts by the Trojans’ Abby Hamilton at the 36:01 and 30:18 marks failed to find net.

A New Castle player got knocked down a short time later, and Hamilton calmly converted the penalty kick past Spartan goal keeper Eden Judd with 29:46 remaining to tie the game at 1-1.

“It feels great to get the win,” Hamilton said after the game. “We have a lot of younger girls on the team and they’re getting used to playing soccer on the varsity level. We’ve faced tough teams thus far and look for this win to be a springboard for the rest of our season.”

Not satisfied with a tie, the Trojans resumed their attack at the Connersville end of the field. The Trojans’ Karsen Morgan kicked the ball just wide left of the goal at the 27:15 mark.

The continued attack was rewarded three minutes later when New Castle’s Lauren Ayers found the back of the net for a goal, giving the hosts a 2-1 advantage with 24:13 left in the game.

Another shot by Hamilton was saved by Judd at the 22:17 mark.

The Spartans finally were able to penetrate deep into the New Castle zone for a shot by freshman Kiley Smith, but it was turned away by Trojan goal keeper Makenzie Bridgeman at the 20:39 mark.

After Bridgeman recorded another save at the 17:04 mark, New Castle’s Sarah Gerth scored a goal off a free kick by Hamilton with 14:02 left in the game for a 3-1 New Castle lead.

Trojan defender Ashlynn Clouse went down with an injury to her foot or leg with 12:26 remaining in the contest, but the New Castle defense was up to the task and prevented any more serious challenges by the Spartans.

“We struggled a bit in the first half,” Trojan defender Cloie York said, “but we were determined to not let them score in the second half. Once we got the lead, I was confident we were going to win, and it feels great.”

Ayers had a final shot go wide with three seconds left in the game, and the Trojans celebrated their first win of the season.

Bridgeman ended with eight keeper saves for the game.

“The girls were happy to get back home to play a game,” Coach York added, “because they were getting a little road weary. I think this win will boost our confidence going forward.”

New Castle goes back on the road for games at Centerville Thursday and Oldenburg Academy Saturday before returning home for five straight games starting next week.