The undefeated Minutemen made sure to shoot down those Tiger hopes.
Despite a strong second-half performance, a slow start spelled a 2-0 Northern Lakes Conference defeat for coach Dan Miller’s squad.
Concord, on the strength of a pair of first-half tallies, improves to 9-0-1 overall and a perfect 4-0 in NLC play. The Tigers, who were without three starters Thursday night, fall to 6-2-1 overall and 2-2-1 in league action.
“Now, we gear up for sectional play,” said Miller about his team pretty much falling out of contention for the NLC title. “I thought we made great strides in the second half tonight. I really liked our mentality. We created more opportunities. In that final 10 minutes, especially, we were on their end and had some quality chances.
“I thought we came out flat. I think our girls were nervous. We were minus three starters, but I’m not making excuses. That’s not why we lost. They definitely outplayed us. We just struggled in transition in the first half. The key was that we were slow in transition. We had a hard time generating any attacks in that first half. Transition is an area we have to work on.”Concord, fresh off a 1-0 NLC win over NorthWood Tuesday night, came out quick from the start. The fleet-footed hosts seized momentum early when junior Taylor Lantz hit a high shot that caromed off Tiger keeper Abby Schue’s hands and into the net for a 1-0 lead at the 33:12 mark.
The Minutemen, who have 15 returning letter winners from last year’s team that was 11-5-2 overall and 4-3 in the NLC, just missed less than a minute later as a rocket shot from deep drilled off the crossbar. The hosts did make it 2-0 with 16:31 to play when freshman Casey Buchanan played a second shot attempt into the net after an initial save by Schue.
Warsaw’s Schue, a junior, turned in a strong effort between the pipes as she made 13 saves in the contest, including a couple of stellar ones to keep her team close.
The Tigers, playing with much more intensity and vigor, had a golden chance to get right back into it just 88 seconds into the final half. Freshman Elizabeth Van Wormer’s shot from close range, off a fine cross from Erica Gauger, spun just wide of the goal past the Concord keeper who was out.
“We had a great chance there and I thought Elizabeth had it,” Miller said. “It just drifted wide. It was a great cross from Erica. If we get one there, it’s a completely different game.”
The Tigers, who posted a 6-0 NLC win at Elkhart Memorial Tuesday night, had two starters out due to injury and one missing because of a college visit. Star senior Meredith Hollar, who has now missed the last five games since injuring her knee versus Plymouth on Aug. 21, did go through some pre game drills Thursday night. Hollar, who had an MRI earlier in the day Thursday, missed all of last season due to a knee injury. She scored eight goals in the first four games this season and has 50 in her career, just 11 away from tying the school record.
Miller said that Hollar’s playing status for the remainder of the season (six regular season games prior to the sectional in early October) is still to be determined.
“The thing is that Meredith stretches defenses,” noted Miller of his standout, who had 28 goals as a sophomore and will play at Grace College.The loss to Concord was the first shutout of the Tigers this season. The hosts outshot the Tigers 15-5 with Concord junior goalie Jenny Miller making five saves. Concord had a 3-0 edge in corner kicks.
Concord won the junior varsity contest by a 2-1 final Thursday night. Lexi Myers scored for the JV Tigers, who drop to 3-2-1.
Warsaw plays at Fort Wayne Northrop Monday and then hosts Columbia City Thursday. Concord competes in the Kankakee Valley Invitational Saturday and then plays a big NLC match at Northridge Tuesday.