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Wheeler's Lyric Green

In this Oct. 6 photo, Wheeler's Lyric Green, left, prepares to score while Bishop Noll's Jalynn Edwards reaches out to try and stop the attempt during a Class A sectional final in Union Twp.

LAKEVILLE — Lyric Green hasn’t forgotten the hurt she felt Oct. 28, 2017, in Indianapolis. She doesn’t want to either.

It was on that date that the Wheeler girls soccer team suffered its last defeat, a 1-0 overtime loss to Evansville Mater Dei in the Class 1A state finals. Green appeared to have headed in an extra-time goal that night only to be ruled offside.

Green, now a senior, uses the memory as motivation and has results to prove it’s working.

It was on her mind again Saturday at Newton Park as she netted a hat trick to lead the Bearcats, ranked No. 1 in Class 1A by the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association, to a 5-0 win over Argos. With the win, Wheeler claimed a second consecutive regional championship and the right to play Lafayette Central Catholic (17-4) in next weekend’s semistate.

“I don’t think about it in a bad way, but I try to keep my eyes open by remembering last year’s state finals,” Green said after celebrating with the regional championship plaque. “What happened last year has pushed me so hard. I want this more than I ever have before.”

On a team full of capable goal scorers, Green is the engine that drives the offense for Wheeler (21-0).

She chipped in what proved to be the game-winning goal with her left foot off a volley from sophomore Morgan Putz in the seventh minute of the championship game. She doubled the advantage in the 25th minute when she rocketed a shot past a helpless Argos keeper on an assist from junior Riley Garcia.

For good measure, she added a third goal in the 69th minute to complete the hat trick with the game already in hand. There were plenty of other chances in between as well that Green nearly converted only to see the ball sail just wide of frame or barely above the cross bar.

“She’s a big-game player,” Wheeler coach Bryan Murray said. “She’s one of the best finishers, closers, whatever you want to call it. It’s what she does.”

Green doesn’t keep track of her own statistics, but she estimates she’s near 40 goals on the season. That comes after scoring 44 goals as a junior.

Green beats opposing defenses by finding ways to get into clean air, whether that be taking an unconventional run in from the sidelines or simply outsprinting helpless defenders to through balls. When the Bearcat in the No. 12 jersey gets room to work and a goalie to try and beat, Green knows she’s got a chance to put up a tally.

“My grandpa always told me when I was younger to anticipate, so I’ve grown up playing soccer like that,” Green said. “I’m just always trying to look for gaps where through balls can get to me or different angles to play balls to my teammates.”

It works, too.

Just ask Argos. Or Lakeland Christian Academy. Or any Region team that’s faced Wheeler over the past two seasons.

“Lyric knows her job is to put that thing away,” Murray said, "and she does it as well as anyone.”

After Saturday’s win, Green posed for pictures with teammates holding up the regional championship plaque. She said she couldn’t believe that a small school like Wheeler could grow into one of the state soccer powers and that she doesn’t want it to stop.

Green knows she has just two wins separating her from the ultimate goal — a state championship. She came painstakingly close last season and wants redemption before her time is up.

She’ll get her chance. She knows it’s on her now to capitalize.

“This is the most fun I’ve ever had playing soccer,” Green said. “I couldn’t be more excited for what’s next.”