On the final day of the regular season, the Warsaw and Northridge girls soccer teams met at the Tiger Soccer Complex to determine the Northern Lakes Conference champions. It was a grueling, hard fought game that saw the Lady Tigers try to crawl back from an early deficit, but in the end, it would be the Lady Raiders hoisting the conference crown after a 2-1 win.
“I was proud of the girls. They fought a very good team for all 80 minutes,” Warsaw head coach Clive Scott said after the match. “I thought we had a lot of chances to get a second goal to equalize late but it didn’t happen and that’s the way soccer is sometimes.”
The Lady Tigers wasted no time getting down to business as the game’s first whistle sounded, going on the offensive immediately and nearly turning it into an opening goal. Just a minute into the game, Warsaw had already attempted the first shot.
Following that initial attempt, Northridge woke up and began controlling the contest in their own way. The Lady Raiders had a very controlling spell of possession, putting pressure on the home side by keeping the ball in their end for long periods of time. Eight minutes into the contest, Warsaw keeper Claire German would be tested for the first time, and she would answer the call, making her first save of the night.
It wouldn’t be the last time German was put to the test in the opening half. Fifteen minutes into the game, with Northridge inching closer and closer to a goal by the second, the visitors were finally able to convert. A perfect corner kick put the ball right where Morgan Cross needed it, and the senior did the rest, heading in the opener.
Three minutes later, the Lady Raiders added on to their lead. A perfect pass by Cross on the counterattack put the ball right at the feet of Sophia Brown, who took it the rest of the way and booted it into the back of the net to double the Northridge advantage.
“The goal from the corner was disappointing because that’s something we practice a lot,” Scott said. “It was unfortunate that it was a bad five minutes that changed to course of the game. But we dug deep and nearly pulled it off.”
Senior Abbi Kohler of Warsaw moves the ball upfield during Thursday night's home match against Northridge as Morgan Cross defends. Photo by Gary Nieter
Now down by two, Warsaw began to show more urgency in all of its movements, which led to its best spell of play since the opening minutes. Striker Lola Pepper had a few chances to get one back for her team, but the visitors held strong on defense, blocking a majority of her shots before they made it to goal.
The Lady Tigers possessed the ball for a majority of the final 15 minutes of play, and while the team was unable to convert the opportunities into goals, the home side was able to keep Northridge off of the offensive and keep it a two-goal game headed into halftime.
The solid play by the Warsaw continued in the opening minutes of the second half, as the home side continued to press the action and rack up the scoring opportunities. For the first time in the game, Northridge goalie Lilly Vasil was having to come up with big saves.
Even with the new found life, 20 minute had gone by in the second half of action and the score line remained the same. Time was running out, and as the game winded down, so did Warsaw’s chances down in the offensive end.
Finally, with 10 minutes left in the game, the Lady Tigers were able to get onto the scoreboard. A freekick would find its way into the box, where Kayden Pepper would be the last one to make contact. Vasil would get a hand on it, but not secure the ball, leading to it slowly rolling into the back of the net for a Warsaw goal.
Needing to get one more score to earn a share of the conference title, the home side would kick it into overdrive. The Lady Tigers sold out for every chance they could, doing everything in their power to get an equalizer. Unfortunately for the home side, the second score would not come to fruition, handing Warsaw its first and only NLC loss of the season.
Warsaw (8-3-4) will begin its campaign for a sectional championship Tuesday evening against Fort Wayne Northrop. The sectional will be held at the Tiger Soccer Complex.
“They’re a very hard team to play against, they’ve got some really good talent up front. We’ve got a plan for them and I hope we can execute it,” Scott said.”