Just a goal off: Bull Dogs take second in conference

INDIANAPOLIS — For the second time in a week, the Columbus North boys soccer team came up just short against Class 2A No. 10 Bloomington South.

The Panthers nipped the Bull Dogs 1-0 in the Conference Indiana championship game at Franklin Central. The Panthers had edged the visiting Bull Dogs 2-1 Tuesday.

“I think their coach would be the first to say we’re an evenly-matched team,” North coach Andy Glover said. “We had our moments, and they had theirs. They capitalized on one of theirs, and we let a couple get away from us that maybe we shouldn’t have. That’s soccer in the high school game. I feel good about the team’s performance.”

The game was scoreless in a physical first half. The Bull Dogs (8-4-1) were handed three yellow cards while Bloomington South (14-1) had one.

“They kind of took us out of our game in the first half,” Bloomington South coach Kevin Sparks said. “They were very dangerous and had some very good chances the first half. We knew we were tired from the first game (in the semifinals), and we had to dig deep and find a little extra to deal with it. (North) played well. They kept coming at us until the end. They had their chances. That’s a dangerous team we could see again in semistate.”

Junior Ben Yeagley, son of Indiana University men’s soccer coach Todd Yeagley, gave the Panthers the only goal they needed in the 56th minute.

North goalkeeper Mark Salle-Tabor made a nice stop on a penalty kick by Matt Goedde in the 63rd minute.

“It was an unfortunate decision to award a penalty,” Glover said. “It was good shining moment from the game to make the save he made. It sparked our team to play at another level. Sometimes it works out that way. We have true saying that the ball doesn’t lie, and it certainly didn’t in that moment.”

Sparks said the Bull Dogs always seem to have strong goalkeepers.

“They’re able to play two goalkeepers in a game and still be as strong as they are,” Sparks said. “It’s impressive. (Salle-Tabor) made a big save, and we knew that would give them momentum. We had to find a way to match it, but we found a way to make it today.”

Salle-Tabor had seven saves in the second half. Zach Green, North’s goalkeeper in the first half, had one save.

“We were right there with them the whole game, but we just could not finish today,” North center back Zach Friend said. “It happened in the first game against them, too. We have to finish our chances, that’s what we’ve been struggling with. We just have to work on it in practice. We’ll get there.”

Friend said the tight game should benefit the Bull Dogs the rest of the season.

“Hopefully we get to play them again,” Friend said.

The Bull Dogs had advanced by beating Bloomington North 2-0 Saturday morning in the semifinals. Alex McGill scored in the first half off an assist by Rico Hollenkamp, and Finn Anderson scored in the second half off an assist by Sam LaVelle. Green and Salle-Tabor each played a half in goal, with Salle-Tabor making two saves.

The Panthers advanced with a 4-3 victory against Perry Meridian. Bloomington South led 4-0 early in the second half, but Sparks had to put in starters back in when the Falcons got three quick goals.

The Bull Dogs play at Seymour on Tuesday in a preview of the teams’ first-round sectional battle Oct. 3.

“I think we’re performing against high ranked teams; we’re just a goal off,” Glover said. “The main aim for our team is to put the best product on the field when it matters most, which is the postseason.”