The Tigers will have the long and tough road to the title of their own Class 2-A tourney, which begins tomorrow (Tuesday) night.
Host Warsaw opens play in the five-team field versus Culver Academies at 7 p.m. The defending champion Tigers will have to win three games to claim the sectional trophy.
“It’s always difficult to play three games in one week to win a sectional championship,” said Warsaw coach Dan Miller. “Culver Girls Academy presents a huge challenge for us in our first match. We will need to cope with their high pressure system and defend well to be able to advance.”
Warsaw, which beat NorthWood 1-0 (on penalty kicks) in the sectional final in 2011, finished an injury-plagued regular season 9-4-2. The Tigers did not play Culver Academies, but is 2-0-1 versus the rest of the sectional field, which are all Northern Lakes Conference schools. Warsaw beat Wawasee 5-0 (Sept. 22) and Plymouth 3-2 (Aug. 21) and tied NorthWood 1-1 (Aug. 23).
“I believe any one of four teams have a shot to win the sectional,” Miller said. “Anything can happen in post season play, and our scores against the sectional opponents have been very close. The team that plays consistent and minimizes breakdowns will be the team that wins the sectional championship.”
Miller feels better about his team’s health as postseason play begins. Star senior Meredith Hollar, who missed all of last season due to a knee injury, returned Sept. 10 after missing five games after reinjuring her knee versus Plymouth Aug. 21. The standout has 59 career goals, just two away from trying the school record of 61 held by Ashley Kitchens. Hollar, who has 17 goals this season, holds the school record with 28 in a season (2010) and five in a game, a feat she has tied twice this season versus Huntington North and Manchester.
“We have been getting healthier as the season winds down and should be at full strength when we begin sectional play on Tuesday,” said Miller, whose program has won two sectional titles in a row. “We haven’t lost a game with a full strength roster, I’m excited about having our full complement of players, and excited about what we as a team can accomplish this post season.”
Warsaw lost 4-2 in a regional semifinal contest to South Bend St. Joseph a year ago to finish at 13-3-2.
Wawasee enters sectional play on a seven-game losing streak. The Warriors, who have been shut out six times in that stretch (including the 5-0 loss at Warsaw Sept. 22), are 3-11-1.
The Warsaw Sectional champion advances to the Goshen Regional Oct. 10 and 13. They will play the South Bend Riley Sectional winner in a semifinal contest.
Whitko, which won its first-ever sectional title in 2011, begins postseason play tonight (Monday) in the eight-team Class 1-A Blackford Sectional. The Wildcats face Mississinewa in the second game at 7:30 p.m. No. 19 and host Blackford, which Whitko beat 2-1 in overtime in the sectional final last year, plays Oak Hill in tonight’s opener.
The Blackford Sectional winner advances to the Fort Wayne Canterbury Regional Oct. 10 and 13. They will play the champion of the South Adams Sectional in a semifinal match.
Girls soccer semi states are slated for Oct. 20 with the State Finals scheduled for Oct. 27.
Girls Soccer Sectionals
Oct. 2: 7 p.m.: Warsaw vs. Culver Academies
Oct. 4: 5 p.m.: NorthWood vs. Plymouth; 7 p.m.: Wawasee vs. Oct. 2 winner
Oct. 6: 7 p.m.: Championship
Oct. 1: 5:30 p.m.: Blackford vs. Oak Hill; 7:30 p.m.: Mississinewa vs. Whitko
Oct. 2: 5:30 p.m.: Maconaquah vs. North Miami; 7:30 p.m.: Manchester vs. Peru
Oct. 4: 5:30 p.m.: Oct. 1 winners; 7:30 p.m.: Oct. 2 winners
Oct. 6: 12 p.m.: Championship