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EVANSVILLE — Moments after the Columbus North boys soccer team assured itself of a return trip to the state finals, senior Brad Shaw channeled his inner Joe Namath.
The sixth-ranked Bull Dogs, who fell to Crown Point on penalty kicks in last year’s state finals, downed a pair of Central Indiana foes Saturday to win its second consecutive semistate title. They knocked off No. 4 Center Grove 3-1 in the Evansville Harrison semistate final behind a pair of goals from Shaw and one from Jarrett Stark.
“My senior year, going back to the state finals, we’re winning,” Shaw said. “It’s redemption for last year. It’s going to be fun.”
North (16-4-1) will play at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at IUPUI against the winner of the Warsaw semistate championship game, which featured No. 2 Warsaw and Hamilton Southeastern.
Shaw’s first goal came in the 35th minute when he stole a pass from the defense, dribbled around two defenders and put one in the left corner of the net. The game stayed 1-0 until the 65th minute when Shaw took a pass from Parker Hirsch on the left side and rocketed the ball into the net.
“That’s a big-time goal,” North coach Andy Glover said.
But the Trojans (18-3-1) didn’t go away. A little over a minute after falling behind 2-0, Kyle Parry scored to cut the lead in half.
The Bull Dogs weren’t done either. Stark scored on a follow shot off a rebound from Center Grove keeper Dalton Mudd’s save on a Will Bridgeman free kick.
“I think we play a good brand, and the kids work really hard,” Glover said. “They stay true to their aims, and this was a good, fine team they beat tonight in Center Grove.”
North outshot the Trojans 14-9, putting five shots on goal to Center Grove’s four. Chase Francoeur recorded three saves for the Bull Dogs.
“I think tonight’s officiating had a whole lot to do with the outcome of the soccer game,” Center Grove coach Phil Orlando said. “I’m not happy with it. I think the folks that officiated this game were in way over their heads. I’m not making excuses. I’m just saying this was a very poorly officiated soccer game, and it’s just sad we get to this level in the semistate and we get this level of officiating.”
North advanced to the final with a 3-1 semifinal win over No. 18 Cathedral Saturday afternoon. The Irish (14-6-1) scored just 3:01 into the contest, but the Bull Dogs tied the game in the 15th minute when Shaw touched an Andre Abedian pass through to Keaton Voegerl in the box for a goal, and it was 1-1 at halftime.
North took the lead in the 46th minute when Shaw took a pass from Riley Belding and buried a shot from the left side of the box. Reid Wilson added a penalty kick in the 60th minute.
Cathedral’s William Moore scored his second goal of the game in the 76th minute to cut the lead to 3-2.
The Irish had a couple more chances, but the Bull Dogs fended them off.
Both teams finished with 11 shots. North put seven on goal to Cathedral’s three. Francoeur recorded one save.
“We always talk about different contexts of the match, being prepared in how to handle them, and we replicate those in practice,” Glover said. “So they’re used to playing down a goal or two, circumstantially we make slight adjustments to the shape, and they know what to do in those situations and they did well today to come around and score some goals.”
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