A goal from Nathan Kolbe 42 seconds into the game was all it took, but Warsaw showed complete control all 80 minutes of a 5-0 thumping of Wawasee in the Plymouth Boys Soccer Sectional semi-finals.
The Tigers, which were happy to just get on the field and play after learning earlier in the week it would be stripped of over a half dozen wins and the Northern Lakes Conference soccer title after a player was ruled ineligible during the season, showed no ill effects.
“I felt like the guys needed to be on the field,” Warsaw head coach Scott Bauer stated. “They were laughing and joking on the bus, which felt like it has all year long. Hopefully they can put all of that behind them and continue to focus on the postseason.”
Kolbe looked as fluid as anyone on the pitch, collecting a hat trick after tucking away two goals in the second half, the third of the day coming on a clever flick from Grant Allbritten. Kolbe was given the opportunity to be featured in the offense as star forward Diego Lopez took most of the game off to heal some nagging injuries.
Allbritten would contribute the other two goals for Warsaw, both coming in the first half. Controlling nearly all of the possession in the middle third of the field, Allbritten collected a touch and rifled a shot past Wawasee goalkeeper Josh Secor in the 17th minute. A free kick from Allbritten in the 26th minute left Secor frozen on his line and Warsaw well on its way to a punching a ticket to the sectional final Saturday night.
“An early goal like that did give us a lot of confidence,” Bauer said. “It just became a matter of how many of those are we going to be able to convert on. We knew we would have chances against Wawasee, but Saturday we will need to do a better job of finishing.”
Wawasee, showing very little in the way of organization among a stonewall of Tiger defenders all over the field, could not get the wheels going. Taking just one shot on goal in the game, a harmless 35-yard kick from Jordan Acton midway through the second half, its intention of jumping on the Tigers never came to fruition.
“Right off the bat we were caught flat-footed and were off balance, and all of a sudden they were one-up on us,” said Wawasee head coach Tom Taylor. “The mentality of our boys was ‘wow, we need to play more defense.’ We tried to settle in, but we couldn’t get anything going on offense and they started to find a rhythm against us.
“We didn’t take many chances, and focusing too much on defense and not moving the ball forward and taking some shots.”
Warsaw won the shots battle 17-1 and had nearly a half dozen blocked inside the Wawasee six-yard box. Secor made five clean saves and had two shots rocket off posts. Michael Yantz made just the one stop for Warsaw.
The 2A No. 2 Tigers will face Culver Academy after the Eagles beat Plymouth, 3-0, in a rainswept second game.
Luther Jacobs got the Eagles on the board in the 52nd minute with a slick dribbling display off the right side and a low shot into the corner of the net. Manuel Ituart and Tanner Grant added goals to complete the shutout.
Warsaw and the Academy will meet at 7 p.m. Saturday night in the sectional final. The Tigers are searching for its 11th title and fifth in a row. CMA are seeking its eighth title.