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IT doesn’t get much bigger than No. 1 vs. No. 2.
That will be the case when the Columbus North and Avon boys soccer teams meet in the semifinals of the Evansville Harrison Semi-state at 1 p.m. EDT (noon CDT) Saturday at the Coke Fields in Evansville.
Not only are North and Avon rated as the No. 1 and 2 boys soccer teams in Class 2A in Indiana, they’re the top two teams in the country, according to MaxPreps.com.
“It’s a big competition, and I know both teams are looking forward to it,” North coach Andy Glover said. “They’re a very well-coached and organized team, and I feel that our team is pretty organized. It should be a fun game to be a part of.”
The defending state champion Bull Dogs (19-0-1) had been the top-ranked team in the nation by MaxPreps, but the Orioles (20-0-1) took over that spot this week. North dropped to No. 2. Glover doesn’t plan to use that as a source of motivation.
“To be perfectly honest, our team focuses on what matters most, which is our team’s performance,” Glover said. “Ninety percent of statistics are useless.”
The North-Avon winner will play the winner of the semifinal between No. 3 Evansville Memorial (16-1-5) and co-No. 10 Center Grove (16-3-1) in the semi-state final at 7 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. CDT).
“I feel pretty good about things right now,” Glover said. “The team is working hard after a long season and is still open minded to and receptive to the principles that we’re trying to impose upon them, and they’re responding well.”
Of course, the Bull Dogs will have an even bigger match next weekend if they make it through the semi-state and into the state finals. If that isn’t enough for Glover, his wife Jill is due with the couple’s first child on Nov. 8.
Tall order for East girls
The North boys won’t be the only team from Columbus taking on a state No. 2-ranked Avon squad on Saturday at the Coke Fields. The co-No. 20 Columbus East girls (17-2-1) 15-2-3) will play the Orioles at 11 a.m. EDT (10 a.m. CDT).
With top-ranked Carmel having been eliminated in its own sectional, Avon is the highest ranked team remaining in Class 2A.
“Avon is an excellent team,” East coach Ilya Schwartzman said. “We’ve heard a lot about them and talked to a lot of coaches around the state who have played them to get some additional information.
“They’re solid, they don’t have any obvious weaknesses, but on any given day, any team can be beaten,” he said. “We’re going in with the expectation that we can achieve that.”
No. 9 Memorial (17-3-2) and No. 12 Center Grove (14-3-3) will play in the other semifinal. The championship match will be at 7 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. CDT).
The Olympians avenged one of their two losses in the regional semifinals against East Central and could avenge the other if they were to meet Center Grove Saturday night.
East will be playing in its first semi-state since winning its last sectional and regional titles in 2006.
“There’s no doubt there will be some nerves,” Schwartzman said. “However, quite a number of these players have performed at a very high level at the club level. So they’re used to high-pressure, high-level competition.”
Cross-country semi-state Saturday
Soccer won’t be the only semi-state competition happening on Saturday. Brown County will host the boys and girls cross-country semi-state beginning at 10:30 a.m. at Eagle Park.
The second-ranked North boys and girls will be looking to defend their titles. The East and Seymour boys and girls and Brown County girls will shoot for top-six finishes, which would put them in next weekend’s state finals.
The boys race figures to be another down-to-the-wire battle between the Bull Dogs and No. 3 Bloomington South. The teams have had three close races this season, with North winning twice.
“I think the key is, we need to get our frontrunners as close as possible to their frontrunners, and then, we want to get our fifth one in and shut the door,” North coach Rick Weinheimer said. “We’d like their fifth guy to score a lot more points than ours does.”
No. 6 Terre Haute South and No. 12 Bloomington North will also be in the boys field. The girls race also includes No. 14 Bloomington South and No. 17 Terre Haute North.
“The girls, I think it’s another opportunity for big-meet experience, a chance to run in a big field and run fast,” Weinheimer said.
Sectional volleyball heats up
Class 4A No. 10 Columbus East is the favorite to defend its volleyball sectional title. The Olympians (21-12) begin play in the Bloomington North Sectional at 6 p.m. today against East Central (21-11).
Columbus North (12-20) will meet Bloomington South (20-10) in the semifinals at 11 a.m. Saturday, followed by the Columbus East-East Central winner playing Bloomington North (11-20) at around 12:45 p.m. The championship game will be at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Like the Olympians; Seymour, Hauser and Trinity Lutheran are all defending regional champions, but those three will have to deal with ranked teams in their sectionals. The 4A No. 7 Owls will face one at 6 p.m. today when they meet No. 6 Floyd Central in the Floyd Central Sectional.
Hauser could face Class A No. 10 Oldenburg Academy Saturday in the Hauser Sectional final. Trinity could see Class A No. 9 Springs Valley Saturday in the Orleans Sectional final.
North star all-tourney selection
Columbus North junior Devin Mann was named to the All-Tournament team for the Perfect Game World Underclass Tournament last week in Fort Myers, Fla.
Mann, who plays for the Indiana Bulls, went 6 for 12 for a .500 batting average and tied for the most doubles in the tournament with four. He also had an RBI and three runs scored.
Ted Schultz is a sports reporter for The Republic. Send comments to email@example.com
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