SEYMOUR — The quest for back-to-back sectional titles remains in tact for the Columbus North boys soccer team.
The Bull Dogs scored a pair of goals in each half to post a 4-0 victory against New Albany on Tuesday in the opening round of the Seymour Sectional.
North (12-5-1) moves on to face Seymour, a 1-0 winner against Jeffersonville in Tuesday’s nightcap, in today’s second semifinal at around 7 p.m. Columbus East and Jennings County will meet in the first semifinal at 5 p.m.
In the opening minutes of the game, New Albany (10-6) loaded the back third of the field, allowing North defenders Zach Friend, Jannis Anderson and Ernesto Perez to control possession in the midfield and apply instant pressure.
That tactic paid off, but not for New Albany.
In the 13th minute, North’s Alex McGill dribbled down the left wing and passed a ground ball back to Jack Robertson. Robertson took the pass and blasted it to the far post from 18 yards to put North up 1-0.
The North defense and midfield didn’t give up a shot until the 21st minute, when Schnaider Upchurch blasted an attempt over the crossbar from 16 yards.
North extended the lead to 2-0 in the 24th minute when Perez bent a 25-yard free kick toward the right side of the goal — over a wall — and the New Albany keeper fumbled the save. Sprinting toward the goal, North’s Finn Anderson slammed the lose ball for the easy score right at the goal line.
“Their tactics were pretty evident from the first whistle,” North coach Andy Glover said. “They were going to sit, and we were going to do our part to invite pressure and penetrate in the right moments. Over time, we did just that.”
Out of intermission, New Albany spread the field out with two forwards in hopes putting more pressure on North.
North keeper Noah Kestler kept the clean slate in tact by intercepting a lob from 18 yards out in the 49th minute — and on a corner kick that turned into a shot two minutes later.
In the 53rd minute, McGill netted North’s third goal by banking a shot off the far post from 12 yards, on the left side of the field, off a cross by Andrew Goble.
With exactly 23 minutes remaining, Anderson headed a corner kick into the back off the net off a feed from Robertson to give North some extra insurance.
The game got chippy as the minutes waned down, as Upchurch and Perez were both dealt red cards after a shoving match in the middle of the field in the 69th minute. As a result, Perez will have to sit out tonight’s semifinal match.
Neither team would find the back of the net the rest of the way, as North cruised to the win.
“They did the work tonight,” Glover said. “I was very pleased. There were a lot of quality goals in different places.”