LAKEVILLE — In the moment, the sting of finality hurt.
Hebron girls soccer only trailed Argos in the Class 1A Regional Semifinal at Newton Park for five minutes and 39 seconds. Unfortunately, for the Hawks, it was the final five minutes and 39 seconds. Their season ended with a 3-2 loss.
There were tears on the Hebron sidelines as the players gathered their things. Suddenly and abruptly, Hebron’s seniors saw their careers come to an end. But even in the immediate aftermath of heartbreak, senior scoring leaders Katlyn Cherry and Allison Hano couldn’t help but let a few smiles slip through.
“There’s a lot to be happy about,” Cherry said. “I mean, we did it. We won sectionals, which was our goal coming in. We were obviously hoping to keep winning but today we did the best we could.”
“We checked off a lot of boxes. We won our conference. We won our sectional," Hano said. "It was a pretty great season. It was a really great senior year.”
Argos junior Morgan Dunlap broke open a 2-2 tie in the 75th minute with a game-winning free kick from just outside the penalty box to deliver the final blow to Hebron’s postseason hopes. Despite a frantic effort late, the Hawks (14-3) were unable to find an equalizer before the final whistle.
“That foul near the box to set up the free kick was a killer,” Hebron head coach James Schmidt said. “We’ve had a problem all year with big plays like that. You saw us make a couple of those today and it hurt us. But we had a great season.”
Schmidt, who Saturday completed his 15th season coaching Hebron, was right. His Hawks won 14 games, took the Porter County Conference title and won a sectional championship for the second time in three years.
Cherry and Hano led the effort on the attacking end of the pitch with 53 goals between them. They, along with fellow seniors Heather Loser, Evangeline Farler and Riley McCullough, leave the program after helping the Hawks through what was statistically one of the greatest seasons in school history.
“My seniors were just fantastic,” Schmidt said. “They set all kinds of scoring records and accomplished a lot this year.”
Schmidt knows the group well. Neither Cherry nor Hano were on the soccer team as freshmen but played under Schmidt’s coaching since they were 10-year-olds in youth leagues.
That familiarity is what helped make Hebron so strong, Hano said.
“We grew up with him as our coach,” she added.
While Schmidt isn’t eager to see his seniors out, he said he’s excited for the potential his underclassmen have shown.
It was junior Zoe Parsons who got a foot on a ball just in front of the net to score the game’s opening goal in the second minute Saturday. Later, after Argos (13-6-1) had tied the game in the 13th minute, freshman Madison Maas got the lead back when she cleaned up loose change along the goal line herself to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead just before halftime.
Those two, along with a cast of others, will see increased responsibility next season.
“We’ve got some really good players coming back,” Schmidt said. “Just as a team, we’ve got a lot of technical ability and those kids are only going to mature.”
Cherry and Hano will be left watching from afar. They’ll now turn their attention to basketball season, which starts Monday, as they try to add a second sectional championship to their high school resumes.
And while the loss still hurt and the tears were still fresh, the Hawks’ seniors still managed to take something else with them out of Newton Park.
“Pride,” Cherry said. “We’re all leaving with a lot of pride in being a part of this.”