For the first half of Thursday night’s girls soccer opener, Columbus North looked like a team playing its first game.
The second half, however, the Bull Dogs looked to be in midseason form.
North used a pair of goals from senior Natalie Teo to overcome a 2-0 halftime deficit and forge a 2-2 tie with Heritage Christian.
“We have a couple of new players, and we’re still trying to get used to people and different combinations,” Teo said. “In the second half, we really came together. We still need a lot more improvement.”
Teo put the Bull Dogs on the board in the 45th minute when she took a pass from Elise Whitley and knocked one in from 25 yards, putting it just inside the right post.
Less than a minute later, the Eagles (1-0-1) nearly got the goal back, but Charlotte Verbanic made a big save. Verbanic was injured on the play and had to leave the game.
In her place, Liz Tynan came on and stopped all four Heritage Christian shots she faced to keep North in the game.
The Bull Dogs finally got the equalizer in the 74th minute after Addy Lang was taken down at the top of the box. Teo stepped in and drilled the penalty kick to tie the game.
“I think we just came out out with a lot more energy (the second half), and the first half, we didn’t play with a purpose,” Teo said. “I think in the second half, we really pushed through and played with a purpose.”
Both teams had chances to take the lead in the final four minutes. Tynan made a diving save on a point-blank shot in the 77th minute. The Eagles’ Megan Williams stopped a point-blank shot from Lang with 11 seconds remaining.
Heritage Christian’s goals came on a penalty kick from Reyna Williams in the ninth minute and a rebound shot off a Verbanic save from Sophia Snyder in the 21st minute.
“We were definitely rusty coming out the first half,” North coach Derek Stewart said. “We have a lot of different combinations we’re working through right now, and I think part of it is just settling into more consistent positions and patterns that we want to play with. We seemed to have low energy in the first part getting out of the gates with a little bit of nerves and some new players on the field.”
North finished with a 16-14 shot advantage, with the Bull Dogs putting 11 shots on goal to nine for the Eagles. Verbanic recorded three saves.
North became much more crisp offensively in the second half, when it outshot Heritage Christian 11-5.
“We switched a few things around the second half and tried to get a more offensive shape,” Stewart said. “We had a lot more energy the second half.”