GOSHEN – Once Northridge got going Wednesday night at the Goshen Girls Soccer Regional, there was no stopping them.
Nearly everything Northridge did went right in a 5-0 win over Warsaw in the regional semis, from offensive bounces to defensive timing. And seemingly nothing Warsaw tried seemed to work.
Northridge’s offense was fluid all night, and none more so than Brianne O’Dell, who potted the game’s first goal in the 31st minute and then added a pair in the second half in the 46th and 70th minutes. The first came after Lauren Blyly played a nice cross into the Warsaw 18, which O’Dell didn’t need much room to beat Tiger keeper Abby Schue right side. Ellie Lengacher’s cross six minutes into the second half was true and O’Dell made no bones of her third unassisted.
“Brianne has scored double-digit goals every year, and that puts her at 16 this year,” started Northridge head coach Bill Redinger of his star midfielder. “When she gets the chance, and we put the first one on a tee for her. That third one was what Brianne O’Dell does. She hits those shots and she will put those in the back of the net.”
Christina Juroff and Brey Baltazar added the other goals for Northridge, which outshot Warsaw 12-2 and controlled over 75 percent of the possession in the game.
The Raider defense was just as stout, holding Warsaw’s two shots to free kick opportunities, and both in the second half after taking a 2-0 lead. Breck Jackson took the first free kick in the 58th minute to represent the first time ‘Ridge goalkeeper Julina Skow would have to intercept a ball in traffic. Brooklyn Jackson had the only other free kick for Warsaw, a sailing ball from 20 yards that Skow easily corralled. Warsaw did not attempt another shot in the contest, which allowed Northridge to post a school-record 15th shutout of the season and 15th in its past 16 games.
The No. 14 Raiders (16-1-2) started the season 0-1-2, but have since rattled off 16 wins in a row and allowed just one goal – to Columbus North in the Canterbury Invitational in September – during its current streak. Northridge’s defensive back line of Evelynn Cover, Kara Kershner, Mikaela Zook and Brennah Tadeo will anchor a team playing Saturday afternoon at Goshen for a chance to claim its first-ever regional title. The girls title game with Penn was moved to 2 p.m. to accommodate the boys regional field, which either Northridge or Penn will play in the boys final, also scheduled for Saturday night in Mishawaka.
“Our defense has been together for three years, so this defense has been a long-time coming,” Redinger said. “It’s been a lot of work, but they are great kids and work hard. They realize the offense gets a lot of the credit, but they aren’t afraid to mix it up, too.”
Warsaw (11-4-2), on the other hand, sees its season end in disappointing fashion after winnings its seventh sectional title in exciting fashion last Saturday over NorthWood. With a roster that will lose seniors Schue and defensive backs Zoe Smyth, Vanessa Malagon and Sandra Granda to graduation, the loss is bitter but the future should be sweeter.
“We have got a very, very good, strong team and I’m excited about some players that will be coming up in the next two years,” stated Warsaw head coach Peter Lucht. “I think that we will be able to accomplish some good things.
“Let’s just say what it is, that Northridge is a phenomenal team and certainly deserved to win tonight. I wish them the very best in the state tournament and want them to go as far as they can and represent the NLC very well.”
In the first game of the night, Penn (15-4-1) used a goal in the 10th minute from Roosa Lampinen and a 44th minute tally from Jensen Stroinski to eliminate No. 10 South Bend St. Joseph’s 2-1. Sammy Kambol of St. Joseph’s (16-3-1) cut the lead in half with a goal in the 57th minute, but the stingy Kingsmen defense held on for the upset.