ST. JOHN | There was absolutely nothing that to stop Hanover Central from making history.
With the Wildcats' thrilling 3-2 win over Lowell (2-13-1) in a quarterfinal game of the Lake Central girls soccer sectional, Hanover Central (12-2-1) set a milestone with the program's first-ever postseason victory in its nine-year history. Before Tuesday, the Wildcats had never even scored a goal in postseason play.
"The ball was just sitting right there," said freshman Rylie Singleton matter-of-factly, who scored the game-winner off a rebound with 18:50 remaining in the game. "I wanted to help (the seniors) during their senior year."
The significance of the program's first sectional game victory was evident, as the entire team gathered for a picture near the concession stand, where coach Jim Pattison received a Gatorade bath.
"We've come a long way this year," Pattison said. "When Lowell and Hanover get together, the records get thrown away. We're neighbors, and it brings a little bit more meaning for both teams."
After fighting through what looked like it would be a defensive first half for nearly 25 minutes, Hanover Central's offense came alive.
Blayr Poston put the Wildcats on the board with 15:34 left in the first half before Kirsten Nirtaut's improbable corner kick goal extended the lead 2-0 four minutes later.
Not to be outdone, Lowell's Nicole Melendez netted two goals in less than three minutes, the latter of which tied the game 2-2 going into halftime.
However, Hanover Central's defense held on, surviving an open attempt on goal with less than a minute left in the game after the ball trickled harmlessly out of bounds.
"It was a team effort, and everyone worked together," Nirtaut said. "(Our defense) is always there for us, and always has our backs."
Hanover Central will take on Lake Central Thursday, as the Indians blanked Merrillville 3-0 in the second game.
L.C. (10-7-1) struggled to get on the board despite numerous shot attempts early in the second half. Hillary Campbell finally gave the Indians a goal 28 minutes into the first half, followed by Jane Gates' boot, which gave L.C. a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Kara Polus capped the scoring for L.C. with a goal less than 10 minutes into the second half.
"I think, being sectionals, girls get excited and it just comes with the territory," L.C. coach Lori Smith said. "Once we got that first goal, I think we created opportunities."