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Warsaw dismantles Vikings

by Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

The Huntington North girls soccer team saw their season come to an end on Thursday evening, losing 6–1 to Warsaw in the Sectional semifinals. With the loss, the Vikings recorded a final season record of 12–5.

With their expectations high and their hopes set on Saturday’s Sectional championship game, the Vikings looked to continue their successful season by upsetting the Sectional host school, Warsaw. However, almost as quickly as the game began, the game got out of control in a hurry.

The Tigers generated the first good chance of the game and made no mistake, blasting a one-touch shot off a crossed ball into the top left corner of the Viking net to grab a 1–0 lead just four minutes into the contest.

Warsaw continued peppering Viking junior goalkeeper Kodi Douglass with shots early and often, and after a few misses, again found the back of the net in the 14th minute to double their lead at 2–0.

The offensive onslaught continued, as the Tigers relentlessly tried to extend their lead. They nearly did in the 17th minute, but the bid clanked off the goal post, keeping the score at 2–0 for the time being. However, Warsaw again tacked on to their lead seconds later to go up 3–0.

The Vikings were unable to shut down the high-powered Tiger attack, and Warsaw again found the back of the net off a shot Douglass could not handle, giving the Tigers a 4–0 lead just 22 minutes into the game.

The Vikings finally stopped the bleeding in the 33rd minute when freshman Addy Wiley fired a shot from outside the box. Wiley’s shot deflected off a Warsaw defender, changing its trajectory and fooling Warsaw junior goalkeeper Kaylee Patton, cutting into Warsaw’s lead to bring the game to 4–1.

Warsaw generated a couple of chances in the last couple of minutes of the half, but no more goals were scored, leaving the score at 4–1 in favor of Warsaw heading into halftime.

With the goal at the end of the half and keeping Warsaw off the scoreboard for the majority of the second half of the opening frame, the Vikings hoped to get back into the game in the second half.

However, Warsaw had other ideas, and again came out of the gates firing, scoring just three minutes into the half to regain their four-goal lead at 5–1.

The Tigers nearly added to their lead in the 48th minute, but their chance bounced around in front of the net before trickling wide of the Viking net. However, off the ensuing play, Warsaw extended their lead to 6–1 in the 49th minute.

With the game basically decided at that point, the teams took advantage of the opportunity to get some of their depth players into the game. The remaining 30 minutes were fairly evenly contested, though no significant scoring chances were generated, leaving the final score at 6–1.

“Warsaw is a very talented team,” said head coach Jeremy Steele. “We knew after having played them last year that they didn’t lose very many players and they had a couple of strong freshmen players that came in as well and contributed tonight, so they’re a quality team and a quality program. We made a few critical mistakes very early in the game that put us in a hole that it becomes very difficult to dig out of when you make those types of mistakes. We learned a few lessons tonight, as we always look to improve and always try to get better.”

With the victory, Warsaw advanced to the Sectional championship game against Homestead, who won their semifinal match against Wayne 7–1 on Thursday.

In addition to the game concluding the Vikings’ season, the defeat also marks the end of the Huntington North seniors’ high school soccer careers. Faith Leist, Brooke Goodrich, Veronica Russell, Amaya Sunderman and Elaina Teusch all played in their final game for the Vikings on Thursday.

“It’s always sad to lose your seniors,” Steele said. “They mean so much to your program, as they’ve dedicated the last four years of their time out here to working and getting better. And especially our senior group this year has seen a lot of success over the last four seasons. They’ve been a big part of that success and a good reason for that success. So it’s sad to see them go. They are just a big part of things. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end.”