ARCADIA — The New Castle High School girls soccer team saw its season draw to a close after a 7-0 loss to Jay County Tuesday evening in the opening round of Class 2A Sectional 24 at Hamilton Heights High School.

The Trojans finished the 2021 campaign with a 2-13-1 record while the Patriots improved to 8-4-1 and moved on to face Delta in tonight’s second semifinal match.

“We played our hearts out tonight and I’m proud of our girls,” New Castle Head Coach Sarah York remarked afterward. “This team is full of love and these girls really enjoy playing soccer. I think that has to be the case in order for us to be successful.”

The last time the sectional was at Hamilton Heights, there was a pumpkin patch next to the soccer field. This year, that ground was planted with soybeans.

Soybeans is a fine crop, but there’s a pumpkin shortage this year, so perhaps the owner of that land regrets the the lost opportunity of planting his field with that vegetable orb.

Writing about opportunities, New Castle didn’t have many of them to score in this contest, Jay County did, and that was the difference in the game.

The Trojan team bus didn’t arrive at Hamilton Heights High School until 5:54 p.m., just six minutes before the scheduled starting time of 6 p.m., so the start of the game was delayed by about 30 minutes. There was no game afterward, so it probably didn’t really matter.

Actually, New Castle had the first opportunities to score as it had a pair of corner kicks at the 39:06 and 38:20 marks of the first half, but nothing became of them.

The Patriots got the ball after that second corner kick, raced down the field with it, and junior Mara Bader booted the ball into the net for a 1-0 Jay County lead with 37:56 left in the opening half.

It proved to be the only goal the Patriots would need to win, but nobody knew that at the time and Jay County continued to press the attack.

Just 78 seconds later, the Patriots were awarded a free kick from a good distance away from the goal, Bader took it, and the ball slipped out of the grasp of Trojan goal keeper Maggie Lewis and into the net for a 2-0 Jay County advantage.

Over the next 10 minutes of action, Bader had another shot on which Lewis made a save at the 33:59 mark, Lewis made another save on a shot attempted by the Patriots’ Gabi Bilbrey with 30:49 remaining in the opening period, Jay County’s Angel Clairday kicked the ball wide left at the 29:53 mark, and Lewis made another save with 28:14 left in the first half.

Less than two minutes after that, Bader got control of the ball off a free kick from Bilbrey, booted it, and the ball tickled twine for a hat trick (her third goal of the game) and a 3-0 Patriot lead at the 26:49 mark.

Less than a minute later, Jay County freshman Morgan DeHoff got deep and attempted a shot close to the New Castle goal that Lewis blocked. But on the rebound, DeHoff kicked the ball into the net for a 4-0 Patriot advantage with 25:57 left before halftime.

Except for the opening two minutes, Jay County goal keeper Tricia Ison had little to do during all this time, as the action remained primarily on the Trojan side of the field.

The scary thing for Patriot opponents in the future is that Ison is the only senior starter for Jay County, and it started this game with six underclassmen (three freshmen and three sophomores).

To its credit, New Castle held the Patriots scoreless the rest of the first half.

Lewis blocked a DeHoff shot at the 24:11 mark, Bader kicked the ball over the goal at 23:10, and Lewis made a save on a shot attempt by Alaina Rogers with 21:48 remaining before halftime.

The Trojans finally made a foray deep in Patriot territory, but an Ashlynn Clouse shot from long range went wide at the 19:30 mark.

Jay County’s Emily Dues kicked the ball just wide at 11:40 and Lewis made a save off a Patriot corner kick with 10:33 left in the first half.

New Castle made a pair of forays into Jay County territory in the final 10 minutes of the opening period. But shots from afar by Mireya Guerrero and Maddy Meek were wide, and the two teams went into intermission with the Patriots holding that 4-0 advantage.

Just after the start of the second half, Lewis made saves after shot attempts by Bilbrey (39:04) and DeHoff (36:11) before Bader pounded the ball into the net for her fourth goal of the game and a 5-0 Jay County lead at the 35:04 mark.

Over the next three minutes or so, Bilbrey missed on two shot attempts and Bader one before Patriot sophomore Molly Muhlenkamp dribbled the ball a short distance and kicked it into the goal for a 6-0 advantage with 31:27 remaining in the second half.

By this time, both teams had begun substituting liberally. Lewis made a save off a DeHoff shot at 29:16, Bilbrey clanged the ball off the left post at the 27:40 mark, and Lewis recorded another save with 26:25 remaining.

Jay County freshman Jenna Dues then closed out the scoring for the evening by dribbling the ball on a breakaway and kicking it into the net for a 7-0 Patriot lead with 22:53 left in the contest.

Not much happened in the final 20 minutes. New Castle made a trio of forays deep into Jay County territory, but did not get any good close-in opportunities and came away empty.

Lewis recorded a couple more saves, and then the clock ran out on the Trojans’ season.

New Castle bids goodbye to seniors Lewis, Clouse, Meek, Amber Heera, Kiera Harris, and Alanah Amman.

“Right now, we’re looking at either Lilly Raines or Presley Gibson to be goal keeper next year,” York added. “As our knowledge of soccer and experience improves and our feeder system continues to grow and get better, I think we’ll see a lot more wins in the future.”