ELKHART — Bill Redinger’s wallet got a little lighter after what happened Thursday, Oct. 10, on the Elkhart Memorial High School soccer field.
Redinger has told his Northridge girls soccer team that if they can score in the first five minutes of either half, he’ll spring for ice cream.
The coach decided to slide the ice cream window a little wider when Senior Lauren Blyly scored a header on a feed from freshman Brey Baltazar in the 47th minute — seven minutes into the half.
“We try to get them moving early,” said Redinger of his team’s emphasis. “It’s amazing how little things like (ice cream) will motivate.”
Blyly’s goal put the Raiders (14-1-2) ahead 2-0 on the way to a 3-0 semifinal win against Concord (10-7-1) and a championship-match spot opposite Goshen (15-1-1), which scored a 3-1 triumph against Elkhart Central (7-10) in Thursday’s first match.
The sectional final is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12. Spectators are asked to park in the west lot, accessing it via C.R. 3. The other lots will be dedicated to band contest vehicles.
Northridge, which beat Goshen 5-0 during the regular season, advanced thanks to a defense that has posted 13 shutouts in its last 14 matches.
What makes the Raiders so good on defense?
“You are looking at a group that has been together three years,” said Redinger of a defensive backfield that features four-year varsity player Kara Kershner and three-year varsity players Evelyn Cover, Brennah Tadeo and Mikaela Zook in front of goalkeeper Julina Skow. Tadeo is a junior. The rest are seniors.
“They just have a great understanding of each other,” said Redinger. “Kara and Mikaela don’t come out of the game. Those are two really good defenders. Brennah and Evelyn are not very far behind.”
Redinger said the work done by defensive and offensive midfielders also contributes to Northridge’s defensive strength.
“It takes some pressure off,” said Redinger, who also uses Tadeo as a midfielder when necessary.
It was Tadeo who contributed the assist on the second goal of the night by senior Brianne O’Dell. Baltazar assisted on the first two Raider goals.
Concord coach Todd Hesselbart, who started three seniors Kristin Brumbaugh, Taylor Lantz and Jenny Miller, was more than pleased with his team’s hustle.
“I am a little humbled by the way my team played tonight,” said Hesselbart. “They played the hardest I’ve seen them play all year. They played with a lot of heart. I’m real proud of my seniors. They led positively all year.”
Goshen got things going against Central — which led 1-0 on a goal by senior Madeline Thomas in the third minute — after what Redskins coach Dan Graber classified as a sluggish start.
“We didn’t play our style of soccer. That’s for sure,” said Graber. “(Central’s offense) was effective against us at the beginning, but we didn’t come out ready to play.
“That first 10 or 15 minutes we weren’t ourselves.”
The Redskins pulled even when senior Martha Castillo dribbled and set up sophomore Jelitza Palomino for the first of her two goals of the night.
“(Castillo) is a phenomenal player,” said Graber. “She creates things for us.”
Junior Joleen Miller’s header goal on a pass from freshman Ailyssa Trosper — who assisted on Palomino’s second goal — just before the final horn capped the scoring.
The final frenzied minutes saw Central have a couple scoring chances that Redskin defenders turned away.
Goshen beat the Blazers 2-0 during the regular season so Goshen knew Thursday’s foe was capable.
Graber wanted his defense to neutralize talented Central senior “difference maker” Brittney VanderHoek.
“(Freshmen) Ashton Ellis did a great job of shutting her down,” said Graber. “Ashton just shadowed her the whole game.”
Blazers coach Chris Malott, who started six seniors in Thomas, VanderHoek, Julie Nolan, Hailey Salisbury, Wendy Sandoval and Allison Valentijn, was reminded of the first time his squad played Goshen this season.
“It was 1-0 at the half and we hit the side of the post twice in the first half,” said Malott. “It was very even both halves.”
2A Elkhart Sectional
Goshen 3, Central 1
C — Madeline Thomas (unassisted) 3rd minute.
G — Jelitza Palomino (Martha Castillo) 34th.
G — J. Palomino (Aylissa Trosper) 74th.
G — Joleen Miller (Tropser) 80th.
Shots: Goshen 9, Central 5. Goalie saves: Goshen — Alyssa Hershberger 3; Central — Rebekka Ponce 2, Cat Anagnos 4. Corner kicks: Central 4, Goshen 1.
Records: Goshen 15-1-1, Central 7-10.
Northridge 3, Concord 0
N — Brianne O’Dell (Brey Baltazar) 12th minute.
N — Lauren Blyly (Baltazar) 47th.
N — Br. O’Dell (Brennah Tadeo) 54th.
Shots: Northridge 15, Concord 2. Goalie saves: Northridge — Julina Skow 2; Concord — Jenny Miller 10, Kiley Harmon 0. Corner kicks: Northridge 4, Concord 0.
Records: Northridge 14-1-2, Concord 10-7-1.
Next: Goshen vs. Northridge in Elkhart Sectional championship at Memorial Saturday, Oct. 12, 2 p.m.