Playing in front of their home fans for a sectional championship, Mansfield Christian didn't perform as they had expected early in their match against Van Buren, but had a second half to remember with BIG play from a Little freshman.
The 3rd-seeded Flames played inconsistently for most of the opening half, finding themselves in a 1-0 hole to the Pointers at the break. Then with the season hanging in the balance, a trio of MC youngsters carried the team on their backs over the last 40 minutes.
Freshman Abby Little got the Flames on the board just under 10 minutes into the second half to tie the match, but she was just getting started at the offensive end. Little dazzled the crowd with a highing arching shot that found the top-left corner of the net on a ball she admitted was a designed cross, giving MC a 2-1 advantage.
Fellow freshman Anna Sparks later extended the Flames lead to 3-1 at the 24-minute mark, knocking in a loose ball after a scrum in front of the net. In the closing minutes, Little finished off a hat trick to put the icing on a 4-1 sectional clinching victory.
Not to be overlooked, was the play of sophomore keeper Mary Golias, who notched 8 saves to keep Van Buren off the board in the second half. Along with a solid defensive performance and crisp ball movement, Mansfield Christian would look like a contender for the district crown with their performance over the final 40 minutes of the win.
The Lady Flames (10-6-1) will now move on to the D3 District semifinals at Findlay where they will face off against #2 Crestview, who beat MC twice during the regular season, 3-1 and 3-2.