SEYMOUR — Columbus East will retain the Hoosier Hills Conference title.
For the ninth straight season, the Olympians took at least a share of the HHC crown by defeating Seymour 3-1 on Thursday. With the win, East (8-7-1 overall) finishes its HHC schedule in a tie with Floyd Central at 6-0-1.
“(Winning HHC) is something we really take great pride in,” East coach Ilya Schwartzman said. “We never want to let it go. It’s a phenomenal accomplishment for the program. To continue maintaining championships is one of our priorities each year. We’ve done what we set out to do. Now we need to enter sectional on a high note.”
It took just two shots on goal for the Olympians to take the lead in the opening half. East first got on the scoreboard in the fifth minute when Sarah Park stole the ball from the left wing and centered it to Addy Galarno, who slotted it into the back of the net from 18 yards.
The Owls nearly countered in the ninth minute when Marie Lenart broke through the back line and rifled a shot from 12 yards, but Olympians keeper Brooke Hamblen didn’t bite on the shot down the center with a stop.
Kayla Griffin took back-to-back corner kicks for Seymour in the 22nd minute, but a header by Andrea Ferrer was deflected out, and a pass that was kicked back to the senior for a shot was saved by Hamblen.
Hamblen continued her strong play by picking off a high cross in the 25th minute that nearly found the head of the Owls’ Aidan Hiester.
“Seymour always comes out and plays hard,” Schwartzman said. “We were ready for that mentally and physically. I thought we started out really well. It was really good to get a goal early. I thought our girls did a fantastic job controlling the middle, and our crosses were great. I thought the girls earned it, and it was great to watch them play like that.”
Both teams came out firing to start the final 40 minutes. East’s Maya Federle pushed a shot off a deflection for a score from five yards after Owls keeper Rachel Collett made a diving save.
Lenart answered two minutes later for Seymour, beating an Olympians defender down the right wing and dribbled to within 10 yards before converting a shot across her body to the far post. Galarno nearly added another East goal in the 58th minute with a header, but a diving save by Collett thwarted the effort.
A free kick from just outside the 18 box by Griffin bounced off the crossbar, and the follow-up header by a teammate also hit the woodwork in the 71st minute.
Jaeda Berkemeier added an insurance goal for East when she followed up a teammate’s shot that bounced off Collett in the 76th minute.
“I thought the movement off the ball was great,” Schwartzman said. “If you follow your shots, good things will come.”
Collett collected eight saves as the Olympians outshot the Owls 12-4.