By Mike Deak
WARSAW – There wasn’t much celebration or jubilee. Just a job to be done on Saturday.
And Warsaw made quick work of its task at hand.
A goal just 1:08 into the game was the snowball that just rolled downhill for the Tigers as it crushed county rival Wawasee, 10-0. The win was a landmark occasion for Warsaw as it closed out a Northern Lakes Conference girls soccer championship.
And for the first time since 2014, the conference isn’t going to come down to the final day, as Warsaw moved to 6-0 in the NLC to stay 1.5 games ahead of both Plymouth and Northridge, both 4-1-1 on their seasons. Since 2015, either Warsaw or Northridge has played for either a tie or outright on the conference title, Warsaw sharing the title last season with Northridge.
But all that was put to bed when Bonnie Hampton uncorked a shot from the right wing that beat Warrior keeper Lindsay Doss top corner for a quick lead.
An own goal in the 15th minute made it 2-0, and Warsaw was well on its way.
Audrey Grimm, Macy Wayne, Elizabeth Stone and Corissa Koontz all netted goals in the next 14 minutes as the onslaught was on.
“We’ve really worked on not just scoring, but how we score,” said Warsaw head coach Jon Hoover, whose team skipped a formal photo after being announced as NLC champs. “We’ve got players that can pass, that can shoot. Today was a great day for us to step forward and work on that. I’m super happy we got the win, but I’m as happy with how we did it from the standpoint of how we played.”
Zoe Bergan started the scoring in the second half with a colossus of a free kick from about 35 yards out that caught Doss off her line. Rylee Burns, Megan DeBoest and Kaina Voss all found the score sheet as well, giving Warsaw an unbelievable nine different goal scorers in the match. Bergan almost had two, but her free kick at the final whistle was waived off as it sailed into the netting.
Gracie Scholl, Jordan Love, Wayne and Burns were all credited with assists in the contest. Warsaw produced an 18-1 advantage on shots in the contest.
Warsaw’s win gives the program it’s first outright title since 2015 when the team went 6-0-1, and first back-to-back titles since the team laid claim to at least a share of titles in 2001-03 seasons, not sharing the 2002 title and splitting with Concord the other two seasons.
“We love playing Northridge, we know that match is always going to be fun,” Hoover stated. “It can be an up year or down year for either program, and it still will be a great match. We’re looking forward to it. The goal is still there for us to be undefeated and untied.”
While Warsaw’s offense was the headliner in a 10-0 blitz, Hoover was equally as pleased with the shutout his team posted. With Warsaw owning well over 90 percent of the possession in the contest, Wawasee’s only shot of the game came in the final five seconds of the first half, a gapper from Nondus Brown that was easily corralled by Emily Bugg as the halftime horn sounded. Emelyn Aca started the game in net and was subbed out midway through the half.
The Warriors wouldn’t even get an errant chance in the second half as Warsaw put the clamps on its defensive third.
“We knew there would be pressure from all angles and this would be our toughest challenge of the season,” said Wawasee head coach Luis Camargo. “We wanted to focus on what can we do good in this game, what kind of positives.”
Warsaw (8-5-1) will change gears in its final week of the regular season, hosting Fort Wayne Carroll Tuesday and visiting Northridge Thursday. Wawasee (1-9-3) will welcome in Mishawaka and NorthWood Tuesday and Thursday to Warrior Field.
“We’ve struggled with high intensity games then going to a lower level opponent, for whatever reason,” added Camargo. “It’s really just going out with the same intensity, we played very well against Northridge and Concord, then didn’t the next games out. We can’t drop down to the other team’s level. But we feel good for our chances to get a win next week.”