WARSAW – You have to give credit to Warsaw girls soccer head coach Peter Lucht. It would be easy to be riding high after a very successful regular season. But with just days ahead of the 2-A Warsaw Girls Soccer Sectional, the second-year skipper is treading carefully.
“It is never a guarantee to turn potential into results,” Lucht said, noting his club at 11-2 has turned talent into results. “And it is never a guarantee to win a game on paper, or win a game over an opponent that you beat earlier in the year. While our goals are higher, we need to take one game at a time, and not take anything for advantage.”
Lucht and his club will face NorthWood Thursday in the sectional’s first semi-final. Needing to just beat a team it already defeated, 4-0, in late August, it would be an easy write-off into the finals for Warsaw. But the cautionary stance of Lucht is smart, as stranger things have happened at tournament time.
However, Warsaw is loaded with opportunity and players who have played in vital tournament games before. Brooklyn Jackson and Elizabeth Van Wormer have been the heartbeat of the offense and will likely have a say in Warsaw’s offensive success. Clair Snodgrass and Sydney Weideman have shown penchant to nose toward the goal, creating nightmares for defenses to cover so many options.
Defensively, Snodgrass has also buoyed as a floating stopper and the help from Pam Miller has allowed Warsaw to create a wall for opposing offenses.
“I believe in order for us to succeed and reach our goals, we need each person to play at their best,” Lucht said. “Each game is a battle. And you cannot go off to battle with only 10 percent of your army fully functional.”
Wawasee is facing the opposite challenge as Warsaw. Having been competitive in several of its matches but only two wins to show, the Lady Warriors don’t have much to lose heading into its opening match against Plymouth Tuesday night.
The Lady Pilgrims stuck Wawasee with a 4-0 loss last week, but Wawasee head coach Doug Heinisch is looking at the bright side.
“They are aggressive and they have a lot of size,” Heinisch said of Plymouth. “But we will be ready for them. They pushed us around the first time, but we played pretty well against them the first time around. But that’s life in the NLC, what can you say. You want to play against the best and measure yourself against them. This is a great opportunity to do that.”
Up front, Wawasee has speed with Sarah Lancaster and Leigh-Ann Shrack in two and some quality defensive options in Caitlin Clevenger, Maddie Birch as well as goalkeeper Nicole Streby.
The remainder of the sectional has Culver Academy awaiting the Plymouth-Wawasee winner in Thursday’s second game. The final is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday. Warsaw has won four consecutive titles, including the last three in the current sectional alignment.
Looking east to the 1-A Fort Wayne Luers Sectional, Whitko will play right away against South Adams Monday in the sectional’s first game. The eight-team sectional is loaded with state-level talent, including Fort Wayne Concordia, Fort Wayne Luers and 1-A No. 4 Fort Wayne Canterbury.
Whitko, with barely 20 girls on its roster, has dealt with all sorts of health problems that has whittled the active roster to less than 15. Head coach Gary Sims, however, is optimistic his club can compete against South Adams, but the rest of the tournament is a bonus.
“We’ve got a good draw for the sectional and we’re hoping to squeeze one win at least out of it,” Sims said. “With all of the Fort Wayne teams in there, we know what they are capable of. South Adams looks like us. I’m hopeful of that matchup. The rest of it, happy to be there.”
The eight-team Luers sectional will have quarterfinal games Monday and Tuesday, semi-finals Thursday and the championship Saturday.