3A No. 7 North blanks Woodmen, earns rematch with No. 8 Trojans

GREENWOOD — Center Grove and Columbus North have opened the girls soccer season against each other in each of the last five seasons, and it has always served as the prelude to an eventual sectional meeting.

On Tuesday evening, the two rivals assured themselves of yet another dance with one another.

The Class 3A No. 7 Bull Dogs rode three Amelia Corney goals in a 10-minute span of the first half to a 4-0 triumph over Greenwood, earning a semifinal date on Thursday with the eighth-ranked Trojans. Center Grove pulled away from Franklin in Tuesday’s opener, 9-1.

The Woodmen (7-8-2) kept the Bull Dogs off the board for the bulk of the first half, but Columbus North shook off an early head injury to senior defender Nitya Chenanda and eventually took control.

Corney broke the stalemate with 10:20 to go in the half when she knocked in a right-to-left crossing pass from Kendal Ely. The freshman then punched home a second tally at the 5:06 mark, this one off a left-to-right ball from Claire Lyvers.

“We had a week off, which affected our play,” North coach David Young said.

“Nitya going down early in the game emotionally affected us as well. We fought through it against (Bloomington) South with Jenna (Lang), and we had to fight through it today.”

Young wasn’t yet sure what Chenanda’s status will be for Thursday.

The Bull Dogs extended the lead to 3-0 just 33 seconds before halftime. Corney pounced on a loose ball that got away from Greenwood freshman goalkeeper Bre Wheatley after a save, knocking it loose and into the net.

Greenwood again held its ground in the second half, preventing Columbus North from adding onto its lead until Emily Ellis put a high, hard shot past Wheatley with 8:14 remaining.

Wheatley closed her debut season with a valiant effort in net, making 12 saves.

Though the Woodmen came up short, coach Joe Mushrush was pleased with the effort that he saw from his young squad, which had numerous freshmen playing key roles.

“I’m proud of the team,” he said. “To be able to hang in there — I’m not going to get wrapped up in the score. The way that we played, though, I thought was really nice. … When you start as many freshmen as we do, there’s going to be growing pains, a lot of adversity you’ve got to face. They learned a lot of lessons. We kept our composure, and we didn’t give in when it was totally possible that we could have.”

North now turns its attention back to a rematch with the host Trojans. Center Grove rallied for a 2-2 tie in the season opener, but both sides expect an entirely different match now that the Bull Dogs are without top scorer Lang, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last month.

“It’s going to be a different set of problems, because the team relied on Jenna when we played them first, and rightfully so,” Center Grove coach Mike Bishop said. “Now that she’s out, it’s kind of like, ‘Okay, now what have we got?’ So it’s going to be a whole brand new game, probably different tactics and such. We’ll just have to be prepared.”

“We have to evaluate our personnel for tomorrow, and see what we have on Thursday to play,” Young said. “Our intention is that we play them hard. It’s going to be a difficult game on both sides, and I think it’s going to be a pretty tight one.”