As if the chance to continue fighting for a sectional championship isn’t enough of a reason to be excited for postseason soccer, the Terre Haute North girls’ soccer team faced off with cross-town rival Terre Haute South in the opening round of the Class 3A Martinsville Sectional.
The Patriots used a strong second half on both sides of the ball to overwhelm the Braves late, winning the contest 3-0 to advance to an 8 p.m. Thursday semifinal against host Martinsville.
North head coach Kyler Baker has enjoyed seeing his team play strong soccer at this point in the season.
“We got re-organized after the second half and a lot of that had to do with how hard South plays,” North head coach Kyle Baker said. “I think we are playing our best soccer right now. We have great senior leadership and we feel pretty good about making a run.”
Terre Haute North (12-5-1) controlled the clock early, retaining possession through the majority of the first half of action. The Patriots were able to get several shots on goal in the 20-minute mark from Ellie Price and Sasha Thompson but failed to find the back of the net.
South goalkeeper Lanee Dillion was a key contributor for the Braves, stopping each of the North attempts in the half. Another opportunity came for Thompson in the first half, but her shot ricocheted off the right post and out of play, leaving both teams knotted at zero going into halftime.
The Patriots came out firing in the second half of play, utilizing strong passes around the perimeter of the field to come up with several shots on goal. After a touch-pass from North’s Avery Pommier gave Ellie Price a clean look at the goal, Price finished strong to put the Patriots up 1-0 with 30:27 remaining.
Terre Haute South (7-7-2) struggled to defend the offensive aggression of North up front as Price nearly netted two additional goals within 50 seconds before Dillion and Caitlin Cox used several saves to hold the North lead to one goal.
As time began to wind down, frustration and physicality began to flare up from both teams, as so often happens in this rivalry. Not content with a one goal lead, North took advantage of several South ball-handling errors to set itself up in prime position in front of the South goal. With 14:57 left in regulation, Sasha Thompson unloaded from mid-range, sailing the ball past Dillion to double the North advantage to 2-0.
Thompson, a senior for the Patriots, likes the chemistry that the team has found through the latter half of the season and into sectional play.
“We didn’t really know how the season was going to play out but we have come together really well,” Thompson said. “Across this season, we are playing at our best (now).”
Thompson, North's all-time leading scorer, struck again just under three minutes later with 12:05 remaining, this time finding herself several yards from the net. A quick move with the ball opened up the net for Thompson and the senior all but secured the North victory, putting her team up 3-0. Despite a valiant effort, South was unable to trim its deficit, falling in the sectional opener.
“North is a really good team and they made the shots tonight,” South head coach Courtney Hubbard said. “We have some strong leadership on this team and among the seniors though and our team gave it all they had for eighty minutes.”