Providence team celebration regional final

The Providence boys’ soccer players celebrate after their 5-2 victory over Forest Park in a Class A regional final Oct. 17 in Clarksville. Providence will be facing Westview for the 1A state championship Friday night at Carroll Stadium on the campus of IUPUI in Indianapolis.

JEFFERSONVILLE — It should be a fun matchup for the Class 1A boys soccer state championship Friday night when Westview (16-5) takes on Providence (15-3-3) for the title at the Michael A. Carroll Stadium on the campus of IUPUI in Indianapolis. It’s a game that features two teams separated by 278 miles, one of the widest distances you can have for any IHSAA state title game.

Providence — full name is “Our Lady of Providence High School” — is located in Clarksville, approximately seven miles north of downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Meanwhile, Westview is less than 20 miles from the Michigan state line.

Needless to say, the Warriors and Pioneers didn’t have any mutual opponents this season.

It can be hard to scout a team that plays on the other end of the state. Fortunately for The Goshen News, one of our sister papers is The News and Tribune, located right next to Clarksville in Jeffersonville. Their sports editor, Josh Cook, has covered Providence firsthand for the past four years and has seen the Pioneers rise to Class 1A state champions in 2020 and repeat finalists this season.

The Goshen News sports editor Austin Hough reached out to Cook earlier this week to get his perspective on what has allowed Providence reach this moment as the team attempts to win back-to-back Class 1A state championships.

Q: Providence is the defending state champions. They lost 10 seniors from last year’s team, is that correct?

Cook: Yeah, that’s right.

Q: What has allowed them to be so successful this year with all of that experience that had graduated last year?

Cook: A lot of these kids who are on this team now were on that team last year. Even though they may not have started, they got some valuable experience. There are some freshmen on the team, but a lot of them are kids who played last year and maybe even the year before. They’ve just now bided their time and are getting their chance to start now.

Q: Billy Hoke is their leading scorer this year, both in goals and assists. What has allowed him to take that next step in this senior year?

Cook: He was about fourth or fifth on the team in scoring last year. He’s had to step up and score goals and just kind of be the playmaker this year; he wasn’t needed last year because they had Luke Hesse who — I think he had like 40 goals and ended up with 90 points, something like that; he just had a crazy year. And then Evan Scott, who was his running mate, was a midfielder and would serve him the balls; he almost had 20 assists last year. So, Billy’s just had to fill in the scoring void of those guys and maybe even one other guy, too; the guy who scored the game winner, actually, against Argos, Edward Bobkoski.

But yeah, it’s basically been Billy and Quentin Hesse, who is Luke’s younger brother. He was maybe their third or fourth leading scorer last year, but he got hurt earlier (this year); he had a foot injury, so he missed a lot of time but has come back recently and has picked it up and played well at the end of the season. So, those two are their big scorers basically. Billy’s not the biggest kid, but he has a knack for scoring and assisting goals.

Q: There’s obviously a lot of pressure on Providence this year, being the defending state champs and all of that. How do you think they’ve kind of handled all of that pressure, especially during the state tournament?

Cook: I mean, so far, so good as far as that goes. They’ve had some, I won’t say relatively easy games, but they’ve had some comfortable games so far. Obviously, this is going to be a different animal in the state finals. They were in Westview’s position last year — they had never been to the state championship before and they were playing the defending state champion in Argos. The tables are turned this year. But yeah, they’ve just picked up where last year’s team left off. They’ve lost a few games, but they were to schools in 3A … they’ve just carried on that tradition.

Q: How much do you think experience will help Providence on Friday?

Cook: Obviously, it helps them from just having that experience of being there and all that kind of stuff. But this is going to be totally different. Last year, they played at Fishers (High School), so this year they get to play at IUPUI and at night time. It’s kind of a whole new setting for them, but I think just that experience of having played last year will definitely serve them well; maybe not be as nervous.

Q: I don’t know how much of a soccer expert you are — I’m not the smartest soccer mind in the world, admittedly — but if there’s one thing you know that Providence needs to do to win on Friday, what’s it going to be?

Cook: Just control the midfield; that’s a big thing for them. Play their style of play. The big thing for them in the second half of the season has been defense. They lost one of their only few returning seniors — AJ Richards suffered a broken leg early in the year. … that was a season-ending injury, so they’ve had some younger kids step up, including a freshman that has had to go back there and play some defense. They’ve had some young kids step up, so I would say the midfield and defense … and then their goalkeeper is only a sophomore, too, and he played some last year. His brother was a key player on that team, too, and he’s been a huge part of what they’ve done this year.

Austin Hough can be reached at austin.hough@goshennews.com or at 574-538-2360. Follow him on Twitter at @AustinHoughTGN.

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