TERRE HAUTE —
Terre Haute North girls soccer coach Kyle Baker had a plan for the Patriots’ sectional opener on Tuesday.
Try to gain the upper-hand on Vincennes Lincoln early and build a sizable early lead. Then … rest.
That plan came together swimmingly for the Patriots against the overmatched Alices. North scored three goals in the first 15 minutes of the Class 2A Terre Haute South Sectional opener and coasted to a 3-1 victory.
North (12-4-1) could have rested for competitive reasons as the Alices were no match for North in any phase of the game, but beyond sporting reasons, Baker wants the Patriots to pace themselves as they seek their second consecutive sectional championship.
“We’ve had a long year and played a tough schedule. We’ve put 1,700 miles on a bus. We decided we could rest the starters early if we could and get out injury-free,” Baker said.
Libby Ward scored two of North’s goals and assisted on the other. Ward went down in the penalty box with an ankle injury with 25:23 left in the first half and limped off the field, but she said after the match that she was kicked and that she’d be fine for the remainder of the sectional.
“We’re excited to advance. We didn’t want our season to come to an end today,” Ward said.
The Patriots quickly ensured that option would be off the table. Vincennes Lincoln (2-13-2) played a flat-back four-person defensive line high up the pitch in an attempt to catch North off-guard via an offside trap.
he Patriots were having none of it. With a wide attack, North easily broke the trap and created scoring opportunities from wings Maddie Stuck and Michaela Schuld.
Stuck, who plays on the right side, created the first goal just 1:07 into the match. She lofted a perfectly-placed cross into the middle of the penalty box. Ward made a diagonal run from the left side and had a free header. She buried it in the right side of the goal and put North up 1-0.
The second goal came barely a minute later. North once again possessed the ball inside the Vincennes Lincoln penalty box and had multiple options to score. As it played out, Ward found Spencer Grim who scored easily to make it 2-0.
Ward struck again with 25:23 left in the first half. Schuld’s cross and the twin-threat of Grim in the penalty box discombobulated the Alices’ defense and Ward scored to make it 3-0.
Shortly after that, Ward was injured and North substituted liberally, but the one-way traffic continued. The Patriots would have had more if not for bad luck: Madison Morrison hit the post and Kelsey Thomas hit the crossbar during North’s onslaught. North had an 18-2 advantage in shots in the first half alone and finished with a 25-3 edge.
To its credit, Vincennes Lincoln never threw in the towel. The second half was much more competitive and the Alices were rewarded with 13:58 left when North handled the ball in the penalty box. Veintamilla Maria scored via a penalty kick to erase the shutout.
The win set the Patriots on a collision course with city rivals Terre Haute South. The Patriots and Braves will play in Thursday’s second sectional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Northview and Owen Valley play in the 5:30 p.m. opening semifinal.
North defeated South 5-0 in the regular season match on Sept.19.
“So many of the girls have played together in club. When they play against each other, like any rivalry, it means something. We’re looking forward to it. It’s always exciting,” Baker said.
Class 2A TH South Sectional
Vincennes Lincoln 0 1 — 1
Terre Haute North 3 0 — 3
TH North goals — Libby Ward (Maddie Stuck), 38:53 1H; Spencer Grim (Ward), 37:34 1H; Ward (Michaela Schuld), 25:23 1H.
Vincennes Lincoln goal — Veintamilla Maria (PK), 13:58 2H.
Saves — Cassidy Mercer-Szady (VL) 11; Cristen Bray (THN) 1.
Shots — Vincennes Lincoln 3, Terre Haute North 25.
Corners — Vincennes Lincoln 1, Terre Haute North 6.
Next — Terre Haute North (12-4-1) plays Terre Haute South in a Class 2A Terre Haute South Sectional semifinal Thursday. Vincennes Lincoln finished its season with a 2-13-2 mark.