By James Pence
For The Republic
When Columbus North surrendered a goal in the first 28 seconds of play to Class 2A No. 11 Center Grove Saturday, it looked like it was going to be a long day for the Bull Dogs.
They did not let that faze them.
Instead, North was the better team from point forward. Alex McGill earned a hat trick, and despite a huge comeback attempt by the Trojans, the Bull Dogs escaped with a 3-2 victory in boys soccer action.
“Giving up an early goal can do two things — it can gut a team or bounce back and play,” North coach Andy Glover said. “The kids stepped it up. Center Grove is a very good team, and they certainly earned their goals. They also helped us confront some adversity late in the season, which is important heading into the postseason.”
The kids stepped it up. Center Grove is a very good team, and they certainly earned their goals. They also helped us confront some adversity late in the season, which is important heading into the postseason. —Columbus North coach Andy Glover
McGill’s first goal came in the 22nd minute when his header off a pass from Rico Hollenkamp was floating in the air and just out of reach of Trojan goalkeeper Jacob Cooley to level the game 1-1.
“My teammates find me when I’m on the run when I break off a defender,” McGill said. “I found a way to finish them.”
In the 33rd minute, McGill made some outstanding moves to get by some defenders and won the one-on-one battle with Cooley for the go-ahead goal.
McGill secured his third goal of the match in the 67th minute when he went by his defenders and put it through to give the Bull Dogs (10-5-1) a 3-1 lead.
Center Grove cut the deficit in half when it picked up a goal in the 71st minute. Jared Wilkerson found the net off an assist from Jack Neal, who also had scored the opening goal for the Trojans.
But North stood tall when the pressure was on to preserve the win.
“We changed our lineup to have attackers drop back and play more defensive and just hold the ball and pass to let the other team chase it,” McGill said.
The Bull Dogs have very little time to prepare for a quick turnaround. They face Seymour in the sectional opener on at 6 p.m. Monday at Seymour.
“I like having two hard games in such a short amount of time,” Glover said. “It replicates things that you might see later in the tournament.”