01 Nov Marian girls soccer team left its mark with state runner-up finish
Marian girls soccer coach Henry Vu admits that there are plenty of fond memories of his first season in charge of the Knights.
The most meaningful of those memories though has nothing to do with the wins accumulated and the championships won by his talented team.
“I’m just so proud of how much time and effort this team put in to grow as a family this season,” said Vu by phone Sunday night. “That’s the most important thing to me. It’s all about the memories they created that were non-soccer ones.”
The No. 4 Knights saw their season end in heartbreaking fashion Saturday in the Class 2A state title match in Indianapolis. Ella Hamner’s header goal with 1:19 to play in the second overtime period lifted No. 3 Evansville Memorial to a 1-0 win over Marian.
► Semistate IHSAA girls soccer: Marian wins semistate title, headed for state finals
“It was heartbreaking,” admitted Vu of the goal just 79 seconds before the contest would have went to a penalty kick shootout to decide the state champion. “But credit them. They executed on the play.”
Memorial won its fifth state title Saturday, the second most in girls soccer history in Indiana. The Tigers were making their 12th trip to the State Finals.
Marian used its trademark formula of strong team defense Saturday to slow down Memorial. The Tigers had won their six previous tournament games by a 41-2 margin. The Knights, prior to Saturday, had allowed just 12 goals this season with 15 shutouts by senior keepers Ainsley Butler and Adrienne Weyers.
Vu took over the Marian program after spending the past two years as an assistant coach in it. The 34-year old native of Staten Island, New York replaced Ken Nuber when he left in the offseason to become the women’s soccer coach at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne.
Vu directed a Knights’ squad to a 20-4 mark with sectional, regional and semistate championships along the way. Marian beat previously undefeated Leo 1-0 in the semistate on a header goal by freshman Daisy Moody with just 20 seconds left in regulation play off a corner kick from Grace Weaver. That thrilling win propelled the Knights to the State Finals for the first time since the program won a state title in 2012.
The Knights, who finished 12-4-1 and lost in the sectional final in 2020, had a roster filled with a tremendous group of seniors. The group of 11 were led by the likes of Mia Garatoni, Grace Weaver and Hannah Davis. Garatoni had 13 goals, Davis 10 and Weaver eight and a team-high 11 assists.
“A lot of the credit for this season goes to our seniors for the way they pushed our level of play from day one back in our preseason training in the summer,” noted Vu.
“The thing that I will remember most about these seniors though is how much they cared about each other and our program. That was the most impressive thing about them. It was so impressive about how they cared about all of their teammates.”
The Knights future looks to be very bright even with the loss of its large senior class, seven of whom were starters Saturday in the state title game. Marian is set to return plenty of young talent, led by the likes of Moody. The freshman led the team this season with 17 goals to go with seven assists. The Knights also return standout Teagan Montague, a junior this season.
“Our younger players gained invaluable experience playing on the biggest stage Saturday,” said Vu. “We know that we will have a good group coming back next year.
“We have a lot of potential for next season if we learn from this season and build on it. We have another good opportunity as a team next year if we put the time in that’s needed.”
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