Big second half gives Bull Dogs regional victory

ST. LEON — When Addy Lang aggravated a turf burn on her hip that she acquired in last week’s Columbus North Sectional in the first two minutes of Saturday’s regional final, Addy Lang wasn’t about to let it slow her down.

The Bull Dogs senior standout wrapped it up and went back on the field. She proceeded to score a pair of goals to help lift North to a 3-1 win against Floyd Central for its first regional title since 2011.

“It’s really exciting because we’ve always wanted to advance past this,” Lang said. “We finally just knew what we had to do to pull it off, and we did.”

The Class 2A No. 20 Bull Dogs (13-2-4) advance to face 2A No. 4 Brebeuf Jesuit in Saturday’s semistate at either Evansville or Jeffersonville. The site and game time will be determined today.

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The regional title is the first for this year’s 10 seniors and the first for Derek Stewart as a head coach.

“Especially for our seniors, because it’s our last (time) for everything, it’s incredible to go out and win as a team just for each other and for our coach and our school,” senior defender Emma Wilson said.

North got on the board first in the 28th minute when Lang made a brilliant crossing move from left to right across the box, then turned and fired a shot past Reagan O’Farrell and inside the left post. The Highlanders (17-3-1) tied it in the 34th minute when Gracie Fitzgerald knocked in a corner kick from Alli Kling.

The Bull Dogs’ Kristen Orben scored what proved to be the game winner in the 49th minute when she took a cross from Wilson and put one past Samantha Fitzgerald, who played the second half in goal for Floyd Central.

“At halftime, coach told us that we needed to come out there and play how we usually play,” Orben said. “So we just knew that we needed to play 110 (percent) because it could potentially be our last game, and we didn’t want to end our season here.”

With the Highlanders pushed forward late in the game in an attempt to score the equalizer, Lang was able to break free on a counterattack. She took a lead pass from Natalie Teo and scored in the 79th minute to put the game away.

“We just fought as a team,” Lang said. “We changed our mentality during the second half and knew that we had to change something to win. It kind of all came together, and we finished.”

The defense of outside backs Marina Hughes and Wilson, center backs Elizabeth Craig and Elise Whitley and goalkeeper Liz Tynan were instrumental in keeping Floyd Central off the scoreboard in the second half.

“I think we worked together as a team better than the first half,” Wilson said. “We upped our communication. We locked it in on defense, and our forwards were killing it up top, running at them very quickly.”

North outshot the Highlanders 15-9. The Bull Dogs put 10 shots on goal to only three for Floyd Central.

Tynan finished with two saves.

“Floyd Central was tough and never let up,” Stewart said. “I think the kids just came out wanting to play hard and had a really nice game. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”