A Rough Ending / 3A No. 7 Bull Dogs fall to No. 5 Panthers in regional semifinal

Columbus North’s dreams of a girls soccer state championship might have ended Sept. 20 when senior standout Jenna Lang was injured against Bloomington South.

If the Bull Dogs’ hopes were realistically ended that night, they were officially ended Wednesday night against the same Bloomington South team. The Class 3A No. 5 Panthers scored four goals in a span of 12 minutes, 2 seconds to hand 3A No. 7 North a 4-0 defeat in the regional semifinals.

“It does not define who we are as a team,” North coach David Young said. “We did a lot of great things during the season — won Conference Indiana, won sectional. We’re a different team with (Lang), but you have to move forward. We won’t have her next year, and we won’t have nine other seniors, as well.”

Although Bloomington South (19-0-1) was heavily outshooting the Bull Dogs (15-2-2) in the first half, North’s defense was keeping the Panthers out of the net for most of the first half. But then Kiera Robinson took a shot from the right side of the box that Bull Dogs keeper Mallory Gilley leaped to get her hands on, but couldn’t stop, in the 32nd minute.

“The first 30, I felt we played well,” Young said. “It was a pretty much straight-up game. We had one go through the keeper’s hands. I don’t know if it was a cross or a shot, but it counts, regardless.”

Bloomington South then scored twice in the final two minutes of the first half. Annalise Coyne finished a corner kick from Malea Miller in the 39th minute, and then Miller’s corner kick with 11 seconds remaining somehow found the net, and the Panthers led 3-0 at halftime.

“As it was happening, I thought they were a little rocky,” Bloomington South coach David Prall said. “I thought if we could get it to half 1-0, it still could go either way, so I was really happy to get the second, and I don’t know how we got the third.”

North had staged comebacks from 1-0 deficits to beat 3A No. 8 Center Grove and Columbus East on penalty kicks in their final two sectional games. But a 3-0 halftime deficit against the Panthers would be a tall order to overcome.

“They’ve given up four goals all year, so being down three at halftime, that’s something that likely won’t happen,” Young said. “But you go out and you work hard and hope for the best.”

Unfortunately for the Bull Dogs, it only got worse to begin the second half. With North in more of an offensive formation, Miller found Katharine Lacy behind the defense for a goal in the 44th minute to make it 4-0.

The Panthers outshot the Bull Dogs 17-4, putting 13 shots on goal to two for North. Gilley finished with nine saves for the Bull Dogs.

“We knew it was going to be a challenge,” Prall said. “They defend really well. They’re a really good team, still. Our team didn’t overlook them. They beat Center Grove, and that’s a really good Center Grove squad, and they all know each other, so it was going to be a battle. The score kind of got a way from them, but we just hit them when we needed to, and it got away from them.”

Bloomington South advances to Saturday’s Seymour Regional final, where it will play Castle, a 6-0 winner over Floyd Central on Wednesday.

North and Bloomington South tied 1-1 during the regular season — the game where Lang sprained her MCL and PCL — and that is the only blemish on the Panthers’ record. The Bull Dogs’ only other loss came at 3A No. 2 Homestead, which upset 4A No. 1 and two-time defending state champion Noblesville on Wednesday.

“We have a really good group of girls coming back and only lost one game at the JV,” Young said. “So the core of girls will be young, but we’ll be talented.”