North Hall’s Mary Mancin couldn’t be more excited about her team’s season so far.
The junior goalkeeper has helped the Lady Trojans soccer team allow only eight goals all year. The result has been an 15-1-1 overall record, a region title and three wins in the Class AAA state tournament.
"This has been the best year ever," Mancin said. "The entire team knows what they’re doing, and I can trust them."
Mancin allowed only one goal against region opponents and has only one goal allowed in the team’s three playoff games. In her last start, she stopped a game-deciding penalty kick to help the Lady Trojans defeat St. Vincents in the Class AAA state quarterfinals on Saturday.
"I had a gut feeling that game was going to PKs, but I was ready," Mancin said. "We had been practicing PKs a lot, so I was able to read them and it was the best feeling the world."
Mancin and her teammates face their toughest opponent yet on Wednesday when North Hall plays host to Class AAA’s top-ranked Blessed Trinity, the defending state champions.
The Lady Titans bring their own solid defense to the Brickyard. They’ve allowed only one goal the entire season. The Lady Trojans last played Blessed Trinity two years ago, Mancin’s freshman year, and lost, 2-0.
However, the pressure hasn’t gotten to Mancin yet.
"I have a few butterflies in my stomach, but I’m prepared," Mancin said. "We have to make them play their weaknesses.
"We have the best defense in the region and the best in the state, in my opinion. Defense is definitely our strongest point."
The North Hall soccer program addressed the need for a strong defense before the season, hiring coaches to work exclusively with goalkeepers. The results are noticeable, as the Lady Trojans have allowed 13 fewer goals than last season.
"The goalies can often be overlooked, but they’re valuable, especially in the playoffs," North Hall coach Paul Brown said. "The coaches are committed to improving our goalkeepers. They were hired just to work with them."
With fewer goals allowed, Mancin is now faced with the reality of winning a state championship, something the Lady Trojans have never done.
"I want myself and the seniors to finish season with a ring," Mancin said. "We have the best players we could ask for at North Hall and we’re excited."