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Soccer fans arriving late or casually visiting the concession stand during the beginning action between Columbus North and Bloomington North may have missed witnessing one of the fastest-paced openers of the year.
The top-ranked Bull Dogs (4-0) put away the visiting Cougars on Tuesday at the Richard Wigh Soccer Complex by a 4-1 tally, but things first appeared as if the final would feature a much higher total.
Within the first four minutes of the Conference Indiana showdown, the two squads took turns attacking at a blistering pace, slicing through each other’s defense and firing away at the goal.
When the dust had settled just a bit, Columbus North held a 2-1 lead and sent a message that the Bull Dogs had a bigger bite. It also took a heads-up save and a few other defensive stops along the way.
“That was an exciting four minutes,” Columbus North coach Andy Glover said. “But that’s what you can expect between these two teams.”
Less than two minutes into the contest the Bull Dogs got on the scoreboard after Sam Snider took a pass from Riley Belding and banged into the upper-left corner of Bloomington North’s net. Seemingly unfazed by the goal, the Cougars responded just 69 seconds later to knot the action at 1-1.
The guests misfired on another attempt moments later, allowing Columbus North to push the ball deep into the box where Keaton Voegerl found Ethan Smith for the score.
Neither team would find the net the remainder of the first half as the contest became more physical and possession-oriented.
“Bloomington North challenged us after their score, and I think we made a statement in answering it with our second goal,” Glover said.
With that said, perhaps the biggest play of the contest came just 45 seconds after the opening whistle when the visitors pushed the ball up the left side and pulled senior goalkeeper Matt Verplank from the net. Bloomington North’s Rajit Bhandari’s looping kick was right on target to split the goal, only to have it kicked away by a diving Alex Davidson at the last moment.
“Alex was in the right place, at the right time,” Glover said. “He has worked hard to be at that right place and came through when needed.”
Davidson went on to help the Bull Dogs shut down the Cougars after their lone goal. He teamed with Brayton Thornburg, Hugh Hamill and Verplank, who finished with four saves, to make things much harder for the guests in the second half.
Columbus North managed to crack Bloomington North’s defense in the second half at the 16:59 mark.
Senior Andre Abedian connected with classmate Parker Hirsch to push the lead to 3-1. Smith then got loose for a solo goal against the Cougars with just 29.7 seconds remaining in the contest to add the icing to the cake.
“This was a nice (conference) win,” Glover said. “Both Bloomington schools are very formidable opponents, so we look forward to playing South later in the season.”
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