After finishing off a 1-0 regional semifinal victory against Richmond on Thursday night, Columbus North’s attention quickly turned to Saturday night’s championship game opponent.
The sixth-ranked Bull Dogs will face a No. 17 Bloomington South team that handed North its only loss this season in a game that decided the Conference Indiana title. The winner of the 7 p.m. matchup moves on to the Evansville Semistate.
“Play to our potential. Finish our chances,” North coach Andy Glover said. “If we do those two things, we’re a hard team to beat, I think.”
Those were two things the Bull Dogs (13-1-4) had trouble doing Thursday. Their lone goal came in the fifth minute when Chris Gorbett dribbled down the right side, found Brad Shaw with a lead pass, and Shaw beat Red Devils keeper Drew Barrett.
Shaw also scored the first goal in the fifth minute in Saturday’s sectional final win against Columbus East.
“A couple of the games have been 0-0 most of the time throughout the first half, and it put a lot of pressure on our backs,” Shaw said. “So we’ve done a lot of finishing, trying to put a team away quick.”
North held the Red Devils (14-5-2) to four shots, three of which were on goal. Chase Francoeur recorded three saves.
“The back four played great,” Glover said. “I really enjoy watching the wingbacks (Reid Wilson, Chris Gorbett and Robbie Hughes) get forward. They’re doing a better job reading the game and choosing their moments well. The two center backs (Mason Engel and McClain Goggin) were very steady.
“I feel as though the defensive presence in the center of the park was also really good today,” he said. “A lot of flighted 50-50 balls were won by Riley Belding and Andre (Abedian) and Willie Bridgeman.”
The Bull Dogs hit the post twice in the first half. They Bull Dogs finished with 18 shots, putting six on goal, but couldn’t find the net again.
“If you look at the opportunities, it was pretty clear finishing is something that needs to be worked on,” Glover said. “We need to capitalize on our opportunities. Today, we got one in the back of the net, which is great, but we should have had many more than that. While the opportunities are nice to have, the goals are much more important at this time, so we’ll continue to work on that.”
“We kind of took our foot off the gas after the first goal, but I don’t think that will be a problem on Saturday,” Shaw said.