As her Center Grove girls soccer teammates walked off of their home field following a sectional semifinal shootout setback against Columbus North, Emily Karr remained on her knees at the midfield stripe, staring at the turf and soaking up the bitter disappointment.
“It was a really tough way to end the season,” Karr said.
The Trojans have gone through some big changes since that loss. In addition to losing 11 seniors off of the 2021 postseason roster, coach Mike Bishop has also departed.
Bishop’s successor, Myron Vaughn, might be making his high school girls coaching debut, but he’s no newbie. In addition to previously spending more than a decade as the boys coach at Westfield, he’s also the assistant director of coaching at South Central Soccer Academy.
He’s worked with a lot of players on those fields along Whiteland Road in Bargersville — including a large majority of the girls he’s inheriting this fall when they were younger.
“I’m excited,” Vaughn said. “It’s a program that’s always had a wealth of talent. Obviously, being fortunate enough to see that talent grow and then come through club and into the high school, I’ve had the benefit of seeing their developmental arc.”
Now, he and the Trojan girls will have to hasten that development together on the varsity pitch; nine of those graduated seniors had starting experience, and another starter, current senior Kayli Farmer, is still recovering from injury and may not see the field this season. Aside from Karr, senior Molly Tapak and junior Taylor Wert are among the few returning players with much seasoning.
Vaughn views the heavy turnover as a chance for some players that were likely good enough to see the field last year but just didn’t.
“With the amount of girls who transitioned out,” he said, “that provided a lot of opportunity for players who may have been ready last year but just didn’t get as much opportunity.”
If this offseason is any indication, those girls were indeed ready. Center Grove made a good showing during a summer tournament at Carmel, highlighted by a 3-0 victory over defending Class 3A state champion Homestead.
Of course, summer scrimmages are no guarantee of actual in-season success, but Vaughn heads into next Monday’s opener against that same Columbus North squad feeling optimistic.
Karr, one of the few current Trojans who hasn’t played for Vaughn before, has just been feeling hungry since last October. She began her high school career with a semistate appearance and would like to end it with at least the same.
“I personally have been motivated to better myself this summer by focusing on lifting weights, getting stronger and pushing myself mentally,” Karr said. “It has allowed me to grow physically and mentally, and I hope to bring my team along with me.”
SCOUTING THE COUNTY
Center Grove Trojans
Coach: Myron Vaughn
Last season: 10-2-6, lost to Columbus North in Class 3A sectional semifinal
Key returnees: Emily Karr and Molly Tapak, seniors; Brooklyn Brown, Ella DeWitt and Taylor Wert, juniors; Addie Crowe, sophomore
Top newcomer: Sophia Gorall, junior
Outlook: Eleven seniors graduated from last year’s squad, which saw its postseason end in a spirit-crushing shootout. Now, Vaughn steps in to guide a young but talented group of Trojans that has the area’s most dynamic offensive player in Karr and a slew of players who became quite familiar with Vaughn while growing up in the South Central Soccer Academy. Center Grove might have more unknowns than it’s had in recent years, but there should be enough on hand to put together one of the better teams in Class 3A as usual.
Franklin Grizzly Cubs
Coach: Michael Pierson
Last season: 8-7-1, lost to Center Grove in Class 3A sectional opener
Key returnees: Morgan Harvey, Kyndell Jochim and Emma Williams, seniors; Erica Buening, junior; Izzy Trout, sophomore
Top newcomers: Sophie Taylor, sophomore; Addison Mashino and Addie Sever, freshmen
Outlook: The Grizzly Cubs will be in rebuilding mode after graduating a large class that included All-County stars Addie Marshall (Butler) and Mollie Hill (Marian). Pierson will count on seniors Harvey and Williams to lead an otherwise young squad; Trout and Buening should also play big roles, but this season will largely be about building up the next wave of young players in hopes that Franklin can quickly reverse its fortunes and become a contender in the near future.
Coach: Dan Appelbaum
Last season: 7-8-2, lost to Columbus North in Class 3A sectional opener
Key returnees: Emily Metzger and Josie Ochnser, seniors; Kendyl Farmer, Mackenna Martin, Bre Wheatley and Joelle Young, sophomores
Top newcomer: Lily Rollings, freshman
Outlook: The Woodmen threw a bunch of young pups straight into the fire last season with varying results. They’ll still be young this fall, with seven sophomores or freshmen expected to start, but Appelbaum, who’s in his first year at Greenwood after stints with the Tri-West boys and Mooresville girls, is highly optimistic. With a pair of fourth-year starters back to lead the way in Metzger and Ochsner, the Woodmen should be in position to put together a winning season.
Greenwood Christian Cougars
Coach: Suzie Cameron
Last season: 6-10-1, won sectional championship; lost to Cascade in Class A regional semifinal
Key returnees: Adeline Jolley, senior; Izzy Cameron and Sydney Waldron, juniors
Top newcomers: Alli Curlee, senior; Keira Goins and Christina Munsell, freshmen
Outlook: The Cougars are still in the process of finding a replacement for All-County goalkeeper Ellie Bigelow, but the overall product out on the field should be improved. Izzy Cameron was the team’s top scorer a year ago, and Jolley and Waldron will also provide some veteran leadership. GCA won its first sectional title last season with just 11 players; the team is deeper this time around, but the road to a repeat will be far more difficult now that the Cougars have been moved into the same sectional as perennial powers Heritage Christian and Park Tudor.
Coach: Nick Magdalinos
Last season: 6-9-1, lost to Columbus East in Class 3A sectional semifinal
Key returnees: Haley Achs, Kate Dimock, McKinley Garrett, Devon Long, Ella Proctor and Grace Scudder, seniors; Emma Gill, junior; Alexa Laporte, sophomore
Top newcomer: Lexi Crisp, senior
Outlook: With eight starters back, including the speedy Gill up top and a tough goalkeeper in Garrett, Magdalinos is brimming with optimism; he’s calling this the most talented group he’s had since arriving at Whiteland. Crisp, who played as a sophomore, returns to the fold, and at least some players from large freshman class should make an immediate varsity impact. The Warriors are very much a team on the rise and should be a squad to be reckoned with come sectional time.