NAPPANEE – It started with the rookies and ended with the veterans as Warsaw used speed and cleverness to defeat NorthWood, 4-0, in varsity soccer Thursday at Nappanee Elementary, home of the Panthers.
A pair of freshmen put together two very flashy goals to get Warsaw rolling. It looked like an accident, but it was with purpose as Dayle Harvey darted up the right side NorthWood’s defense and sent a lofting cross into the NorthWood penalty area. As the ball continued to loft toward net, Panther keeper Madi Eberle misplayed the direction as the ball sailed into the back corner of the net. Just five minutes in, Warsaw led 1-0.
Fast forward to the 57th minute where a clever header from senior Elizabeth VanWormer off a cross flicked onto Anna Grill, who turned and ripped a missile that Eberle had no chance to recover. The freshman’s goal made it 2-0, and Warsaw had needed breathing room as NorthWood was surviving the early tally.
“The freshmen that have came in this year are ready to go, but it really isn’t about seniority, it’s about ability,” said Warsaw head coach Peter Lucht. “If you look at our lineup, we had freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors all playing and contributing. It’s a bright future. Anna is a dominant midfielder for us, and her hunger allows her to be in position to take shots like she had. That goal was awesome, off the post and in.”
VanWormer would find some space in the Panther defense just five minutes later and capitalize on her own ability, taking a right-footed smash home for a 3-0 lead. Harvey picked up the assist on the play.
Rachel McClelland brought it home on a penalty conversion in the 77th minute after NorthWood was whistled for a dangerous slide inside the penalty area.
The scoreline made it look lopsided, and the shot total did as well. Warsaw put 16 shots toward Eberle, who was capable in stopping 12 attempts, including three well-timed sliding saves on seeing-eyed ventures from inside 10 yards.
Warsaw’s defense, while not tested by a bevy of NorthWood shots, maintained several buildups and held NorthWood to just one shot in the 14th minute. NorthWood took a free kick, which went to the back of the targets and a header was easily corralled by Chloe Snow in her only real work of the night. Snow only had a handful of touches in the match, recording her second clean sheet of the season.
“Defensively, positioning was very good for much of the game. If you are in proper position, you can put out fires before they begin,” Lucht said. “Overall it was a great team effort. Our patience was key. Even just distributing the ball from the back to the mids, if we keep possession, they can’t score, which is a defense in itself. It’s exciting getting our second shutout against a quality opponent like NorthWood.”
The win puts Warsaw at 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Northern Lakes Conference with a whopper of a match coming up Tuesday at defending NLC champion Goshen.
The junior varsity match had Sarah Meade score the only goal as Warsaw held off a furious NorthWood push at the end to claim a 1-0 victory.