WARSAW – On the scoreboard, the 5-0 win by Warsaw over NorthWood in the semi-finals of the Warsaw Girls Soccer Sectional may look like a blowout, but it took a long time for Warsaw to pull away from its Northern Lakes Conference rival.
Elizabeth Van Wormer erupted in the contest, scoring four of Warsaw’s five goals, but didn’t get going until about 15 minutes remaining in the match. Van Wormer’s first goal was a 35-yard bomb in the 20th minute that caught NorthWood keeper Madi Eberle off her line as the lofting shot sailed into the idle net.
For 67-plus minutes, however, that was all the scoring in the contest. NorthWood had settled into clogging the middle of the pitch, keeping Van Wormer and friends off the ball as much as possible in open space. But in all great goal scorers, patience is key, and Van Wormer made her limited chances count.
In the 68th minute, Brooklyn Jackson took off into the NorthWood penalty area and slithered a pass to Van Wormer, whose second touch was true for a 2-0 lead. Three minutes later, Van Wormer capped her hat trick on a penalty kick conversion after Julie Frazzetta made a long run on a through ball into NorthWood’s defensive third that ended in a bad tackle about 15 yards from net.
Another connection between Jackson and Van Wormer in the 75th minute gave the junior midfielder a natural hat trick plus the penalty as an overwhelmed and shellshocked NorthWood side could only shake their collective heads.
“We just needed a shot on goal, something to happen,” Van Wormer said of her first goal. “I was just trying to get the ball forward, get it up and over, and if it bounced around, maybe someone could get to it and score. I really didn’t think that ball was going to go in.”
Jackson would add the fifth goal in the 79th minute to complete the scoring.
Warsaw was every bit the dominant side on both ends of the pitch. Outshooting NorthWood 18-0, the Lady Tiger offense kept NorthWood from making many builds. The Lady Panthers only had two corner kicks and three free kicks within 25 yards of Warsaw’s net, none resulting in any remote danger. Warsaw keeper Gabby Herman needed to stop just one NorthWood corner to cap the shutout. Eberle made 12 saves in a valiant effort for NorthWood.
The inability to build any momentum in the Warsaw third left NorthWood coach Phil Ummel only to hail his opponent.
“Warsaw is a tremendous team, and you can only hold a good team down for so long,” said Ummel, who saw his team conclude 3-14-1. “We fought uphill with them for about 65 minutes, but I’m really proud of our girls for the game they played. Warsaw just deserves all the credit for the way they hung in there and took the opportunities they were given.”
Warsaw (12-2 overall) will face Culver Academy (11-5 overall) in the sectional final, which will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday at Warsaw. Culver defeated Plymouth, 1-0, in the night’s second semi-final on a goal from Jordan Blackburne.
The Lady Tigers are searching for its eighth sectional title overall and fifth in a row. Culver Academy is seeking its eighth title and first since 2010.
Warsaw skipper Peter Lucht feels his team is playing at a high enough level to have to have a shot at anyone.
“If they have more talent than us, then we find a way to be scrappy,” Lucht said, noting he had not seen Culver play this season until Thursday night. “We certainly will have to bring our ‘A’ game, it’s win or go home at this point.
“No matter what the stakes are, the game doesn’t change.”