Baleigh Drum and Tanner Johnson were playing in only their third high school soccer game Wednesday night, but they came through like seasoned veterans when the game was on the line.
After more than 75 minutes of scoreless action, the pair of freshmen headed in free kicks in the final 4½ minutes to give Columbus North its first win of the season, a 2-0 victory against Bloomington North.
The first goal came in the 76th minute when Natalie Teo lofted a free kick from 25 yards right in front of the goal. Drum outleaped a pair of defenders and headed one past Cougars keeper Katie Carver.
“It was pretty awesome,” Drum said. “(Teo) gave me an amazing ball. I didn’t think that it was going to go in, but it went right through her arms.”
Less than two minutes later, in the 88th minute, Katie Carlson hit a free kick from just outside the box on the right side to Johnson, who headed one in from seven yards.
“It felt amazing, especially as a freshman,” Johnson said. “It was my first goal, so it was exciting. We felt really energetic after the first goal, and then after the second goal, we were like ‘Oh, definitely we’re going to win.'”
“Teo and Carlson both hit nice long balls, and it was nice to see the freshmen get a head on them and finish each one of them,” North coach Derek Stewart said. “They did a great job.”
Drum and Johnson were two of three freshman who have seen increased playing time thanks to offseason injuries to returners Addy Lang and Claire Risley.
“They’re good players,” Stewart said. “They deserve to be there. Obviously, there’s been some openings, and they’ve taken advantage of those.”
The Bull Dogs (1-1-1) outshot Bloomington North 19-5, putting 10 shots on goal to three for the Cougars, who didn’t record a shot until the closing seconds of the first half. Charlotte Verbanic posted three saves for Columbus North.
“I thought we actually played better in the first half,” Stewart said. “We got a little strung out in the second half. We still have a lot of things to work on, and we’ll keep building on it.”
The Bull Dogs now turn their attention to Saturday night’s battle with Columbus East. But Wednesday, they were savoring that first win.
“Our first win will help us because we were kind of feeling down after the loss,” Johnson said.
“You always want to get that first one under your belt,” Stewart said. “We’re proud of the way they played tonight and happy to move on to the next game.”