North center backs ‘a beacon of stability’

The way Jannis Anderson and Zach Friend see it, if Columbus North scores more than one goal in a game, the Bull Dogs should be able win.

That theory has held true this boys soccer season. North is 13-0 when it has scored at least two goals. When the Bull Dogs score one or less, they’re 0-5-1.

“If we hold them to one or less, we feel like our offense can take care of the rest and put up some goals,” Friend said.

Friend, a sophomore, and Anderson, a junior, have had a lot to do with North keeping its opponents off the scoreboard. The starting center backs have led a defense that has posted eight shutouts, including three in last week’s Seymour Sectional, and allowed only 19 goals in 19 games.

By contrast, Bull Dog sophomore forward Alex McGill has scored 18 goals by himself.

“We’re pretty good at scoring more than one goal a game,” Anderson said. “People like Alex can score hat tricks. If we can keep them under a goal, that’s really good.”

While Anderson was a center back last season, Friend played right back. This year, they’ve been at center back from the beginning of the season.

“It took awhile from the beginning of the season for Jannis and I to get in sync,” Friend said. “Now, I feel like we’ve found a rhythm, and we’ve had a lot of clean sheets leading up to regional.”

Goalkeepers Zach Green and Mark Salle-Tabor have had a lot to do with that, as well. The pair have split time in goal and have been turning away shots that do get through the defense.

Flanking Anderson and Friend at the outside back positions this season have been Kaemon Jiles, Cam Phillips, Finn Anderson, Nick Beales and Andrew Potter. Those five players also see action at other spots on the field.

“I think we’ve had a really solid defensive season,” Anderson said. “Both (Columbus) East games, we had a clean sheet, which is our goal for every game. We’ve been working together a lot to make our formation work.”

North coach Andy Glover called Anderson and Friend “a beacon of stability” to the team.

“They are among the more dependable players on the team,” Glover said. “They bring a lot of maturity to the team. Jannis, for his size, is a very mobile player, too. He does well with flighted balls, but he and Zach both do well in individual small-group defending and principles.”

Thursday night, the Bull Dogs will face Floyd Central at 6 p.m. in the semifinals of the North Regional. Richmond and East Central will meet in the second game.

The regional final will be at 2 p.m. Saturday.

“We’re taking it one step at a time, and hopefully, we’ll do well in the regional,” Friend said.

If you go

GIRLS SOCCER

East Central Regional

Today

5 p.m.: Floyd Central vs. Richmond

7 p.m.: Columbus North vs. Batesville

Saturday

6 p.m.: Championship

BOYS SOCCER

Columbus North Regional

Thursday

6 p.m.: Columbus North vs. Floyd Central

8 p.m.: Richmond vs. East Central

Saturday

2 p.m.: Championship

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.