When No. 1 Noblesville, the two-time defending Class 3A girls soccer state champion, arrived at Homestead for the regional semifinals Wednesday, it had been three years and nine days since the Millers had lost a match.
It took a hat trick by Homestead senior midfielder Amelia White and a near-perfect performance by her Spartans teammates to end that streak, 4-2, and send the Spartans to the regional finals at 4 p.m. Saturday. They will face Harrison, which beat Carroll 1-0, in Kokomo.
“It's unbelievable, we knew they'd be our toughest match of the year, it's the two-time defending state champion,” Homestead coach Rick Link said. “We gave it everything we had, and I'm extremely proud of how the girls played.”
Homestead twice fell behind against Noblesville, which came into the game ranked No. 1 in the country by MaxPreps. In the 10th minute, Noblesville's Makenna Maloy headed the ball to junior midfielder Ava Bramblett, who outran the Homestead defenders then threaded a shot past Homestead keeper Madison Roush for a 1-0 lead.
The Noblesville lead lasted less than 10 seconds. White received a pass at midfield when the game restarted and she barely slowed down on her way to the net, beating six Millers before booting a shot into the lower left corner of the goal to tie the game.
In the 32nd minute, Bramblett scored again on a penalty kick, putting the Millers back in the lead, 2-1.
But a Noblesville free kick with about two minutes left in the half quickly turned on the Millers. The Homestead defense settled the ball and played it forward to White, who was well into Noblesville's half of the field when Maloy collided with her and was called for the foul. Homestead's free kick was straight at the keeper but bounced out of her hands, and White dashed to the bouncing ball and sent it to the back of the net to tie the game at 2 heading into halftime.
The game remained deadlocked the first 15 minutes of the second half, but White gave the Spartans the lead on another astonishing dash down the field that began when her defenders cleared a Noblesville free kick.
The insurance goal came with 10 minutes to go as White was fouled twice on her way down the field before finally being tripped in the box. Junior forward Sydney Couch took the penalty kick that gave Homestead a 4-2 lead.
“It's definitely not effortless,” White said when asked if those show-stopping plays felt as easy as she made them look. “It's just pushing your body and your mind past the limits. When you think you don't have anything more to give, you give it. That's just what you've got to do.”
Roush made several key saves in the second half to keep the Spartans in the lead, including two that she punched over the cross bar.
“Last year, losing in regionals, those two goals they scored on us were set pieces, and those high balls have been my nemesis all season,” Roush said. “When I get those, I know my hard work in practice has paid off, and it just feels good to be able to make those saves.”