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When Morgan Proffitt tore the ACL in her right knee May 27, Columbus North girls soccer coach Derek Stewart figured he would be without the standout midfielder this season.
But the Bull Dogs received an unexpected surprise Thursday when Proffitt not only returned on senior night but scored a goal in a win over Batesville.
“Obviously, it’s nice to have her back,” Stewart said. “It’s a good morale booster for the team. She’s such a dominant player, it’s great for us.”
The Marquette recruit, who had surgery on June 22, started Thursday and played in 10-minute intervals. She hopes to be able to play longer in this week’s North Sectional.
“It was kind of scary but, at the same time, pretty exciting being three months out,” Proffitt said. “It was just nice to get back on the field. I’m supposed to limit the volume of my playing time. I’m supposed to be careful with it.”
Proffitt normally plays in the center midfield but played forward Thursday in an attempt to limit contact. Still, she had a scary moment when she was slide-tackled by a Batesville defender.
“Outside the 18, a girl took me out,” Proffitt said. “It probably should have been a card. It scared me a little bit.”
Proffitt should provide a shot in the arm to a Bull Dog squad that finished the regular season 6-7-3 after making the state’s final four last year.
“I think it’s very possible we could get to the same place we were last year,” Proffitt said. “We just have to have the right mindset going into it. It’s in our hands what we do with it.”
“I think if we play on our best day, we are capable,” Stewart said. “From a defensive standpoint, I think we’re a hard team to beat. Our offensive production is not as good as I’d like it to be.”
North is led in scoring by juniors Kenadie Carlson (nine goals, three assists) and Gabby Sims (six goals, four assists). Senior goalkeeper Elizabeth James has committed to play at Dayton next season.
The Bull Dogs will play Scottsburg, and 14th-ranked Columbus East will face Seymour in Thursday’s semifinals. The winners will meet for the championship at 2 p.m. Saturday.
The Olympians (15-1-1) are enjoying one of their best seasons ever. Their only loss was a 5-3 setback at Center Grove.
“I think we had a very, very good year,” East coach Ilya Schwartzman said. “I’m very pleased with how we performed. Other than one game, we had an excellent year.
“I’m very positive going into the sectional,” he said. “We’ve played good solid soccer, and everybody is excited about (this) week.”
The Olympians and Bull Dogs tied their regular-season meeting 1-1 on Oct. 25.
“I think we’re going to have to have more possession on the ball,” Stewart said. “East had most of the possession last time. We’re going to have to do a better job of moving the ball and possessing the ball and taking advantage of all our opportunities.”
Senior Emma Dwenger leads East with 32 goals and has added 12 assists. Junior Sam Watters has 14 goals, and junior Sydney Newell has 18 assists.
Schwartzman has alternated senior Kirstin Kulich and junior Spencer Eudy in goal all season and plans to continue that trend.
“I think all of our goalies have done a fine job,” Schwartzman said. “They’ve shown they’re capable of playing, so at this stage, we’re not planning on deviating from what is working for us. In general, we’ll approach it that anyone can go in the goal at any one time, but we’ll adjust it as the games progress.”
While both teams have goals beyond this week, they aren’t looking past the probable rematch on Saturday.
“Obviously, getting out of the Columbus Sectional is going to be the task at hand,” Stewart said. “I think it’s going to be a good matchup.”
“Really, I think it’s about how we play and how we execute,” Schwartzman said. “We have excellent skill and speed; and I think if we play our game, then it will take care of itself. We have goals to go to state, but I think everybody understands we have to take one game at a time, and that’s how we’ve been approaching the whole season, and that’s how we’re going to approach the sectional, as well.”
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