ELKHART – Warsaw girls soccer coach Peter Lucht saw plenty of hearty play from his talented team Thursday night.
He would have liked to have seen a little more heady play though at times,
The Tigers, that being said, were still plenty good enough to post a 3-1 win over host Concord in Northern Lakes Conference play.
Warsaw, ranked No. 20 in Class 2-A, improves to 8-3 overall with its sixth straight win. More importantly, the Tigers remain undefeated in league play at a perfect 5-0.
Warsaw, which won its first NLC championship in 13 years last season in a 14-2-1 campaign, is in the driver’s seat big time in the bid for bragging rights in the league again.
“We did not address the NLC situation before tonight’s game,” said Lucht. “It’s about one game at a time. We knew that from winning the NLC last year that we would have a target on our backs this season. We knew that people would try to knock us off. We have talked about that.”
The Tigers, despite controlling play the entire match, found themselves in a 1-1 stalemate at halftime.
Enter fab freshman Brenna Buhrt and Abby Steffensmeier.
The pair each notched goals in the final 11 minutes of the contest to keep Warsaw undefeated and untied in NLC play. Buhrt hit the game winner on a gorgeous left-footed shot that went in with 10:51 to play. Steffensmeier, who had her team’s first goal late in the first half, added an insurance goal with 5:12 left off a perfect pass from Delaney Taylor on a through ball. The freshmen trio of Buhrt, Steffensmeier and Taylor (who had two goals and four assists in an 8-2 NLC win at Elkhart Memorial Tuesday night) have been outstanding for a Warsaw team that has just three seniors in Julie Frazzetta, Mariah Rivera and Breck Jackson.
“I was proud of the heart that our girls showed tonight,” Lucht said. “Our touch was not always there tonight and we left some goals to be had on the field. But, our girls battled on with heart the entire match.
“It was a total team win tonight for us. Our freshmen have stepped in and stepped up for us this year. This team has jelled together and that’s been good to see. The chemistry is very good.”
The match was deadlocked at halftime even though Warsaw controlled possession and scoring chances. Steffensmeier scored with just 3:05 to play in the opening half for a 1-0 Tiger lead. Concord tied the match as Micaela Toler put in a goal just 1:24 before halftime.
“At halftime, I told them that we needed to play more with our head,” noted Lucht. “The second half was still choppy for us, but we made some good decisions with our head and got those two goals.
“Delaney Taylor and Breck Jackson – our Center Forward and Center Back, were absolutely crucial to our success tonight. Concord threw everything at us, and Breck was able to help organize our defense and limit their opportunities, while Delaney was able to fight through multiple defenders to still contribute to our link up play on offense. Both earned player of the match recognition for their offensive and defensive contributions.”
“I also want to take a moment to highlight Brenna Buhrt. Brenna has been one of the most consistent players on our team this year. I wanted to take this opportunity to say that on a night when the ball wasn’t bouncing her way for much of the evening, she still persevered and was able to score the game winning goal for us in the second half.”
Warsaw, which still has NLC games left with Wawasee (Sept. 24) and Northridge (Sept. 29), has not lost since going 0-3 in the power-packed South Bend St. Joseph Tournament Aug. 20-21. A short-handed Tiger team lost to Hamilton Southeastern (5-0), Chesterton (4-3) and No. 1 ranked Penn (4-0) in that tourney.
“I love the fact that we learned from those three losses,” commented Lucht. “We had 3-4 starters out early and it’s been a learning process.”
Warsaw won the junior varsity contest 1-0 on a late goal by Sarah O’cock. The Tiger JV improves to 2-5 overall and 2-3 in the NLC.
Warsaw (8-3, 5-0) plays at Fort Wayne Northrop Monday. Concord (3-3-1, 2-1-1) competes in the LaVille Invitational on Saturday.