TERRE HAUTE —
A familiar opponent awaits Terre Haute North’s girls soccer team as the Patriots embark on their regional journey.
Castle — the team that knocked the Patriots out of the 2012 playoffs on penalty kicks — will be North’s foe as the Class 2A Jasper Regional. The match is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m., after the conclusion of Evansville Memorial and Floyd Central’s match.
While North takes center stage tonight, South’s boys take the field on Thursday in the Class 2A Washington Regional. The Braves play Floyd Central at 6 p.m. Evansville Memorial and Castle play in the nightcap.
For North, not only did they fall to Castle in last year’s regional, they also lost to the Knights 4-0 in the regular season.
“We know them pretty well. They’ve ended our season two of the last three years. We lost on PKs to them last year,” North coach Kyle Baker said. “We knew then they were very junior-heavy. This year, out of their top 15, 12 are seniors. They’re a very experienced team.”
And a very confident team. Castle (19-0) is the lone undefeated team left in the Class 2A ranks. They are rated 15th in one national poll.
“I think we learned a lot about ourselves the first time. Everything we’ve done since that point has been based on that result,” Baker said. “Everything’s been pointed towards taking another shot at them. They’re a notch or two above anyone we played. Easily the most aggressive, physical and confident team we’ve played.”
North (14-4-1) will use a 4-3-3 formation as its used for the last portion of the season. Spencer Grim, who has 26 goals this season, is North’s most prolific scorer.
Meanwhile South enters its regional on an emotional high. The Braves scored a late winner to knock out Vincennes Lincoln in a sectional semifinal. South then edged Northview in a penalty shootout to win its first sectional since 2011.
South (6-8-2) wasn’t the favorite to come out of the Terre Haute North Sectional, but coach Aaron Nicoson thinks that might work to the Braves’ benefit going forward.
“The thing I like forward to is that we were kind of underdogs in our sectional and so were they. I told my guys that this an opportunity to make history. We’re sticking to our guns,” Nicoson said.
Floyd Central (12-3-4) knocked out favored Jeffersonville 2-1 in its sectional championship. During the regular season, Floyd Central had lost to Jeffersonville 9-2.
Nicoson said that South’s back line — anchored by Forrest Pommier and goalkeeper Keaton Vanway — is “rock solid”. As is the Braves’ midfield, patrolled by Rory Sommerville. Nicoson would like to see the good play from the back transfer to the front and equate to more goals.
South has never won a boys soccer regional.
“I was the assistant coach, and something we’ve carried over from then is that it’s good to have a winning record, but its more important that it goes to your development,” said Nicoson, in his first season as South’s coach. “And it’s more important to perform in the postseason. We’ve shown we can win when it matters most.”
The winners today and Thursday will advance to regional championship matches at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Class 2A Jasper Regional
Evansville Memorial (15-3-2) vs. Floyd Central (13-5-2), 6 p.m.
Castle (19-0) vs. Terre Haute North (14-4-1), 8 p.m.
Class 2A Washington Regional
Terre Haute South (6-8-2) vs. Floyd Central (12-3-4), 6 p.m.
Evansville Memorial (14-1-5) vs. Castle (12-5-1), 7:30 p.m.