Floyd Central struck first Thursday night to take a 1-0 lead against host Columbus North in the semifinals of the North Regional.
It didn’t last long.
The Bull Dogs answered with a goal from Alex McGill less than a minute-and-a-half later, then added two more goals in the second half and held on for a 3-2 victory.
“Right after a team scores, they normally come back and try to get another one,” McGill said. “We just slowed down their momentum by scoring, and we ended up boosting our momentum.”
North (14-5-1) advances to Saturday’s regional final, where it will play (East Central/Richmond) at 2 p.m. The (Trojans/Red Devils) beat (Richmond/East Central) x-x in Thursday’s second semifinal.
Floyd Central’s first goal came from Ethan Worrall in the 34th minute. In the 35th, McGill took a lead pass from Ian Hussey, took a couple dribbles and scored to tie the game at 1-1.
“I was very pleased with the team overall in that some of the points I was going to make at halftime, they had already started adjusting in the last 10 minutes (of the first half),” North coach Andy Glover said. “They had made the tactical changes that a coach would suggest at halftime, so they’re thinking ahead of things. I’m very pleased with the team’s ability to make decisions on their own in the flow in the game and compensate for a different style of play that we’re not accustomed to.”
The Bull Dogs took the lead in the 51st minute when Nick Beales headed a cross from Finn Anderson. The ball hit the crossbar and bounced down into the net.
“Getting that goal really turned around our mentality,” Beales said. “We had to keep pushing and keep pushing. It was a great ball from Finn, a great pass.”
The Highlanders (10-4-4) looked like they might have a chance to tie the game in the 75th minute when they lined up for a free kick a few yards outside the box. But the ball richocheted out to McGill, who sent it to Kaemon Jiles along the left sideline.
Jiles dribbled the ball nearly the length of the field along the sideline before turning toward the goal and putting one in for a 3-1 lead.
“The second in half in regional, whenever you’re only up by one, it gets real intense,” Jiles said. “They don’t want to get knocked out, so when they’re down by one, they’re really pushing at us. So getting that goal to create a bigger window definitely helped us relax a little bit. I feel like once we got that two-goal lead on them, we killed their momentum, and that’s huge.”
That goal turned out to be big because Floyd Central was fouled in the box, and Brodey Zink converted the penalty kick in the 78th minute to cut the lead to 3-2. But North did not let the Highlanders threaten in the final two minutes.
The Bull Dogs finished with a 19-7 shot advantage, putting 11 on goal to five for Floyd Central. Zach Green and Mark Salle-Tabor each played a half in goal for North, with Green posting two saves and Salle-Tabor making one save.
Glover called Jack Robertson, who came off the bench and started the second half in the center midfield, the Man of the Match.
“Whenever I came in, I needed to switch the point more,” Robertson said. “We were playing too direct to that moment, and we were dropping in too deep, and there was too much of a space in our midfield. I knew what I needed to do, and I felt like I really lifted the team and had some good moments throughout the match.”