WITH the way the Class 2A No. 4 Columbus North boys soccer team was playing in its 1-0 win against East Central on Tuesday night, it looked like the match could’ve been ugly early.
Outshooting the Trojans in the first half 12-1, it was easy to see the opportunities for the Bull Dogs were there, yet minor miscues kept them from scoring.
North senior forward Byron Barger took advantage of the opportunities in the 48th minute, capitalizing on a cross from senior midfielder Vince Grana to connect on a beautiful header past East Central goalie David Jutzl.
“With the aggressiveness from the first half, we knew we could capitalize,” Barger said. “They stayed with us defensively, but we showed we were a lot stronger by the second half and were able to wear them down.”
They did, only allowing three shots from the Trojans the rest of the way. North finished with a 21-5 shot advantage.
“We needed to get a game under our belt,” North coach Andy Glover said. “We had a solid performance on both sides, but we need to learn to be more patient when we have the ball.”
While Glover praised the Bull Dogs’ aggression, he said the team needed to take advantage of the many opportunities from the first half.
“We’re known for being a defensive team,” Glover said. “We played fairly well offensively tonight, but we needed to have more clean passes and more open chances early on.”
East Central had a late opportunity in the 68th minute from forward Jonathan Bischoff, who hit two consecutive shots on goal. But North junior goalkeeper Ty Bentham deflected both out of play.
“We need to play two very clean halves,” Glover said. “We were happy to get this first win under our belt, but the first game shows how much we need to work on.”
Senior defender Jerrett Stark said the Bull Dogs’ high pressure proved to be the turning point in the match.
“We knew we had to just stay aggressive with them,” Stark said. “We created so many opportunities on goal and were able to stay on the attack for 80 minutes, but we know we can do better.”
“We have to create better opportunities with our passing,” Barger said. “There were points where we slowed down after a pass and couldn’t take advantage of a big play on goal, so we have to get better.”
While the defensive pressure was easily shown against the Trojans, Glover said the patience has to be there for the Bull Dogs.
“We just have to play our game,” Glover said. “I was pretty satisfied with our performance. We played at a high level, but have to be patient and let the opportunities come to us.”