The Tigers also know very well also about going into sectional play as the team to beat.
Coach Scott Bauer’s talented team counts on more of the same this time around as the state tournament series begins tonight.
Warsaw, No. 3 in the Class 2-A poll, begins its postseason run versus rival Wawasee Wednesday in a semifinal game of the Plymouth Sectional at 5 p.m. The tourney opens tonight (Monday) with NorthWood facing Plymouth. Culver Academies plays that winner in the second semifinal Wednesday evening. The championship game is Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.
The Tigers, who claimed their third straight conference championship last week, head into sectional play at 14-1-2. Warsaw beat Wawasee 5-0 on Sept. 22 and also own wins over NLC foes Plymouth (2-0) and NorthWood (3-2).
“It was a good draw for us, but every team in the sectional will be bringing their best game against us,” said Warsaw coach Bauer. “Northwood has a strong side this year and has been losing close matches to very good teams. CMA is an unknown to me while Plymouth and Wawasee have both improved as the season has progressed.”
“We are generally healthy and my sense is the boys are motivated for another good run into the post season, but soccer is a unique sport that always gives the underdog more of a chance than other sports do. For the last five years or so, Warsaw has always felt pressure to perform well in the post season and in previous years they have rose to the challenge. This year we should be favored until regionals which I consider a toss-up much like last year where we won 1-0 and on PK’s. We are a difficult side to break down. We have to hope that we don’t have an outing that everything bounces the right way for the opposition and we can’t find the back of the net.”
The defense has been dominant all season long for the Tigers, who lost in the semi state title game in 2011 to cap an 18-4-1 season. Warsaw has outscored its 17 opponents 49-7. The Tigers’ lone loss was a 1-0 decision to Fort Wayne Carroll on Sept. 8 and they posted ties in NLC contests versus Concord (1-1) and Goshen (0-0) in finishing 5-0-2 to win the league title.
Warsaw, which lost several key offensive standouts from last season’s team, has relied on its defense big time this fall. The Tigers, led by the likes of Stephen Kolbe and Gustavo Rodriguez and senior keeper Michael Yantz, have allowed more than one goal just once in a game this season (in the 3-2 win over NorthWood).
Wawasee went 2-12-2 in the regular season.
The winner of the Plymouth Sectional advances to the Mishawaka Regional Oct. 11 and 13. They will face the winner of the South Bend St. Joseph Sectional in a semifinal match.
Lakeland Christian Academy makes its IHSAA sectional debut Wednesday in the Class 1-A Culver Sectional. The Cougars play the winner of the Culver-Argos game in the second semifinal at 7 p.m. Argos is No. 19 in the final Class 1-A poll. The Culver Sectional champion advances to the Caston Regional Oct. 11 and 13.
Whitko begins sectional play in the opener of the Class 1-A Fort Wayne Canterbury Sectional, also on Wednesday. The Wildcats face Fort Wayne Concordia in the first game of that four-team sectional. Canterbury, who plays Manchester, is ranked No. 5. The Canterbury Sectional winner moves on to the Garrett Regional Oct. 11 and 13.
Boys soccer semi states are scheduled for Oct. 20 with the State Finals Oct. 27.
Oct. 1: 6 p.m.: NorthWood vs. Plymouth
Oct. 3: 5 p.m.: Warsaw vs. Wawasee; 7 p.m.: Culver Academies vs. Oct. 1 winner
Oct. 6: 7 p.m.: Championship
Oct. 1: 6 p.m.: Culver vs. Argos
Oct. 3: 5 p.m.: Winamac vs. Bremen; 7 p.m.: Lakeland Christian Academy vs. Oct. 1 winner
Oct. 6: 5 p.m.: Championship
At Fort Wayne Canterbury
Oct. 3: 5 p.m.: Fort Wayne Concordia vs. Whitko; 7 p.m.: Manchester vs. Fort Wayne Canterbury
Oct. 6: 7 p.m.: Championship