COLUMBUS, Ind. — It was a fitting end to a 1-1 draw on Saturday at the Wigh Soccer Complex, Columbus East forward Rachel Amlung and the ball were laying in a pile of bodies that included North goalie Elizabeth James and a couple of Bull Dogs defenders.
While half the packed house was holding its breath and the other half was screaming for one more goal as the final horn sounded, the play was relatively harmless despite its proximity to the goal.
For one thing, James was there. The Bull Dogs’ outstanding goalie took charge when anything or anybody entered her territory. For another, James had plenty of help, as she did the entire game. North’s defense was outstanding.
East, which has been trying to close the gap on a North team that has dominated the series, actually went into the game slightly favored due to its solid returning nucleus combined with North’s heavy graduation losses. Judging by the fact that 90 percent of the game was played on North’s end of the field, that analysis probably was correct.
In the end, though all that offensive pressure was neutralized by a North defense that simply wouldn’t let East’s forwards find any open space.
“It’s always disappointing when you don’t get a win,” East’s Emma Dwenger, who helped her team control the ball for much of the game, said. “It’s still the beginning of the season and we have a lot of work to do.
“It was frustrating, but we know we’re not going to get any freebies.”
Although the game is, indeed, a rivalry game, the players were quick to point out that the true rivalry doesn’t exist until the teams are playing for something in the playoffs. “This game doesn’t count for anything,” Dwenger said. “And it was not a loss.”
It was not a loss for North because sophomore Riley Perry lifted a perfect shot over a line of defenders, then over goalie Kirstin Kulich’s head and just under the crossbar. The goal came with 3:55 left in the opening half and just over a minute following Sydney Newell’s penalty kick for a goal just to the left of James. Ironically, it was Perry who was called for a hand ball that set up Newell’s penalty goal.
Perry didn’t have to feel bad for long before she connected on one of North’s few scoring opportunities.
“I knew as soon as I hit it,” she said of her perfect shot.
Perry wasn’t too bothered that the Bull Dogs finished in a tie with a program that has dominated of late. “I wish we would have won,” she said. “But we will get another chance to beat them in the sectional.”
North coach Derek Stewart said he was pleased with his team’s play even if the Bull Dogs couldn’t mount much of an offensive attack. “Obviously, East is a great team and we played within our game,” Stewart said.
East coach Ilya Schwartzman wasn’t too concerned, either, that his team didn’t finally get a win against its rival. “This was one game on the schedule,” he said. “We dominated play most of the game. We had our chances, but they played well. We just didn’t finish.
“I think we can play a lot better.”
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