Columbus North midfielder William Bridgeman fed two, curving, free kicks through the Bloomington South goal-mouth in the first half of Saturday’s Regional championship game with no pay-off.
It only was a matter of time.
With just over 10 minutes remaining before intermission at the Wigh Soccer Complex, Bridgeman again placed a free kick just in front of Panthers’ keeper Luke Crowe. This time, North’s Brad Shaw was waiting.
Shaw booted the ball past Crowe and just inside the right post. Shaw’s first of two goals in the Bull Dogs’ 4-0 victory put Bloomington South in a bind against one of the state’s top defensive teams. The Panthers never recovered against a masterful effort by North.
“I knew if I kept putting it there, Brad, or one of our other forwards, would come through for me,” Bridgeman said.
While it was only one goal, it was just the jolt Columbus North needed.
After all, the Bull Dogs (14-1-4) suffered their only loss of the season to the Panthers, who finished their season 16-3-1.
“That probably was one of our greatest wins,” Shaw said. “They gave us our only loss.”
So what was different in this game?
“Finishing our chances,” Shaw said.
Indeed, the Bull Dogs kept the heat on Crowe from beginning to end. Just under 10 minutes into the second half, North’s Keaton Voegerl went into a scramble of players and somehow managed to feed the ball up field past the Panthers’ defense. Voegerl’s pass hit a streaking Shaw perfectly, and Crowe had no chance. Shaw deposited a bullet into the goal and it was 2-0.
Voegerl also picked up an assist with 15 minutes remaining when he fed Riley Belding for an easy score and then capped an impressive effort with a goal in the final minutes.
Shaw said that he was proud his team could shut out its opponent in the Regional final. But North’s best defense was its offense.
The Bull Dogs controlled the ball most of the game and the Panthers really only threatened North keeper Chase Francouer with three or four legitimate scoring opportunities. Francouer or his defensive mates were up to the challenge each time.
North now advances to the semistate rounds of competition on Saturday at Harrison High School in Evansville. The Bull Dogs will face Cathedral, which beat Brebeuf Jesuit 4-0, in the opening game on Saturday. “We know we have much more work to do,” said Bridgeman, referring to the fact that North finished second in the state last season.