MISHAWAKA — There are some hilly spots in the area around Marian's High School’s Abro Stadium, but none higher than the one Warsaw was forced to climb by the time Saturday afternoon’s girls soccer showdown of state-ranked teams was merely 14 minutes old.

The Class 2A No 2-rated Knights bolted to a 2-0 lead by 13:25 into the contest on their way to a 3-1 win over the 3A No. 18 Tigers.

Scrapping Warsaw closed to 2-1 at 16:09 to go in the second half on freshman Lola Pepper’s goal off a long and precise send from junior Sophia Johnston, but never mounted a threatening shot after that.

Marian restored the two-goal cushion it enjoyed most of the day when Daisy Moody, who figured in all three of the Knights’ scores, headed in a close-range shot off a cross from fellow sophomore Quinn Pankiewicz at 2:48 remaining.

Defending 2A state runner-up Marian improved to 11-1-1, beating a 3A top-18 club for the fourth time this season in the process.

The Tigers dropped to 9-3-2 with their first loss in their last 11 outings.

“We’ve been talking lately about how we’ve gotta score first, we’ve gotta score early, and even said this week that Marian’s going to be a tough team to come back on if they score first,” Warsaw coach Jon Hoover said, “so even being one down made this one difficult.”

That one down came seemingly eye-blink fast, just 2:18 in, as Pankiewicz tallied from about 15 yards out on the left wing off a pass from Moody.

Moody did the feeding again 12 minutes later, finding Addison Schade in the box, with Schade then capitalizing on a Warsaw misplay for the 2-0 spread.

As if that wasn’t enough of an ominous beginning for the Tigers, Warsaw starting keeper Claire German was removed just 14 seconds later following a collision with another player. She remained on the bench the rest of the way.

“She got hit in the head, so we’re just playing it safe with her,” Hoover said. “Just going to go through the protocol to make sure there’s no injury.”

It could’ve been a disastrous development, but sophomore backup Ellie Schenk, a former starter, kept the Tigers in the contest the rest of the afternoon.

Schenk made four saves in relief on a day Marian had eight shots on goal to Warsaw’s four, one of those saves being a dazzler of the kick variety after a Knight had broken through the rest of the defense and drilled the ball from about 5 yards away.

“We’re blessed to have two good keepers,” Hoover said. “Ellie was called on and did a good job.”

Warsaw, playing for the second time in three days after Thursday’s late-night 2-0 win at Penn and for the third time in six, saw its five-game winning streak snapped.

“I think our players are still a little sore from (Thursday), but credit Marian,” Hoover said. “They moved the ball on us. We didn’t play poorly by any means, but just not quite at the level we can.”

Now the Tigers get their decisively longest game break of the season, not playing again until next Saturday when they host Wawasee. Wins over the Warriors and on Sept. 29 at Northridge would cap a perfect Northern Lakes Conference record, while a split would assure at least a tie with Goshen for the league title.

“I think we’re tired, so it’s going to be a good week for us to take one or two days and let everything heal,” Hoover said, “then go hard for a few days and hit the end of the season hard.”

It’s been a season with a hard schedule as well. Warsaw’s only losses besides Marian have come against 3A No. 2 Hamilton Southeastern and 3A No. 5 South Bend St. Joseph, both on Aug. 20 in the St. Joe Invitational, while its ties are at 3A No. 13 Homestead and against 2A No. 6 Fort Wayne Dwenger.

“These are the kinds of games we like to play,” Hoover said. “We want to keep these because they get us ready for postseason. Marian’s very good. They’ll be a state contender at the 2A level. We didn’t get it done today, but I think if we played that team 10 times, we split ’em.”

While the Tigers fell, Pepper continued her season-long assault on the scorebook.

The ninth-grader, who was coming off netting both goals at Penn, is now at 15 goals and six assists on the year, including 13 goals and six assists over her last 10 outings. Overall, she’s scored at least one goal in 11 of the 13 games she’s played.

Warsaw and Marian played to a scoreless deadlock in Saturday’s JV matchup.