INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time in over a month, someone figured out how to slow down the Warsaw boys soccer machine. Unfortunately for the Tigers, it came in the 2A state championship game.
The Columbus North Bulldogs, making its third appearance in the state finals in four years, hounded the Warsaw offense all afternoon and made one of its four shots count in a 1-0 victory in the IHSAA boys soccer state championship played at Carroll Stadium on the campus of IUPUI.
The only goal of the game came on what looked like a busted clearance by Warsaw, but different stories from different sidelines. As Keaton Voegerl lofted a lazy cross into the Warsaw penalty area, the bouncing ball was met by the foot of Brad Shaw, who made the strike true between a pair of Tiger defenders in the ninth minute.
In a game that had Warsaw control much of the offensive pace, Shaw’s only shot of the match will go down in the history books.
“There are no bad bounces here, its astroturf,” said Warsaw head coach Soctt Bauer. “We miscleared it. That was the mistake we were hoping to stay away from in the first 10 minutes. I felt like that was where we were most vulnerable, because they had been here last year. They got their goal in the first 10 minutes.”
Victorious head coach Andy Glover felt like his team put together a complete game just at the right time.
“Blue collar work ethic, discipline and an awareness of the other team but a focal point on how we needed to perform,” Glover said. “To be honest, you won’t get an unlucky bounce on a two million dollar surface. The word lucky should not be used in our performance today for either team. We just stepped up and played very well.”
The No. 6-ranked Bulldogs finish off a 17-1-4 campaign after enduring a brutal schedule that had games against seven ranked teams including a tie against top-ranked Carmel and win over the 1A state champion, Fort Wayne Canterbury – which won the 1A title by a 5-0 count over Covenant Christian in the first match of the day – earlier in the season.
The all-around victory was more than satisfying for Glover, who spent a good five minutes going up the line getting hugs and handshakes from family and friends following the contest.
“I’m pleased with the way we played,” Glover said. “We have a very robust schedule that prepares us for a very stout tournament like our semi-state was. In that postseason run, we were on a steady incline, and that stems from a very deep roster and their performance with an unquestionable work ethic in a training environment.”
Warsaw, which were credited with just five shots on net of the 13 total rips it took on the day, were bottled up by the defense of Mason Engel and Reid Wilson. The pair were masterful in keeping the powerful Warsaw duo of Diego Lopez and Nathan Kolbe in front of the defense and dribbling north and south rather than at the east and west facing nets.
Kolbe and Lopez, which combined for 36 goals heading into the final, had just four shots and none really threatened Chase Francoeur in net. The Bulldog keeper, who recorded six shutouts in his 10 matches this season, needed to make just one big save, a bending cross in the first half that Warsaw converged before Francoeur snatched it out of the air unharmed.
Chris Gorbett also made a big play to keep Warsaw off the board early in the second half when a shot by Grant Allbritten was heading toward an open net before Gorbett headed the ball off the line and away from danger.
Warsaw goalkeeper Michael Yantz finished his brilliant career with three saves. In just one full season of varsity action, Yantz allowed just 10 goals and recorded 14 shutouts.
The No. 2-ranked Tigers conclude its banner season with an official mark of 13-9-2, although Saturday was just the second on-field loss Warsaw suffered this season. The program was forced to forfeit seven games during the regular season for an ineligible player, costing the team a Northern Lakes Conference championship. But all that was moot following the loss.
“Soccer is not a fair game,” said Bauer. “Columbus North may feel like they outplayed us, but from my perspective I felt like we created more. We had more corners, we had the ball in the box a lot more. It bounced around, it just wasn’t our day for it to come out in the end for a Warsaw player to put it in the back of the net.”