GOSHEN — “We did it!”
A giddy group of Concord High School girls soccer players did postgame sprints toward their adoring fans while celebrating with one another.
The Minutemen (15-1-2) were showing their elation after a 1-0 win against No. 15-ranked Northridge (15-2-2) in the championship match of the Class 2A Goshen Sectional.
“It was so exciting,” said Concord senior forward Jackie Greenawalt, who buried the contest’s lone goal — and just the seventh allowed by the Raiders the entire 2012 season — off a right-side free kick by senior midfielder Jen Reyes in the 67th minute.
“Everything was shut out,” said Reyes, describing the calm that came over her in the middle of the frenzy that was the second half of play in a match of Northern Lakes Conference rivals. “I knew Jackie Greenawalt was going to get it. I had confidence in her and I had confidence in our team.”
Reyes was sure to credit Concord’s backline for the program’s sixth sectional title (and first since 2004) and the right to play South Bend St. Joseph at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the first semifinal of the Goshen Regional (the second semifinal pits Warsaw against Penn with the regional final at 7 p.m. Saturday).
“We couldn’t have done it without our defense,” said Reyes. “Bring on regionals, baby!”
Going against a Northridge defense with 13 shutouts and only six goals allowed going into Saturday night, the Minutemen responded with the 11th whitewash of their season while avenging the only loss (a 2-0 regular-season setback at Northridge).
“Who has the best defense in the NLC?” said Concord coach Todd Hesselbart. “Quite frankly, we do. We showed who the best defense is tonight.
“My girls showed a ton of heart and a refuse-to-lose attitude. We slipped up once this year. Nothing to sweeter than payback.”
Saturday’s rematch saw the Raiders have slightly more ball control in the first half and both teams put together plenty of dangerous offensive opportunities, especially in the final 40 minutes.
“We are a team that plays better in the second half,” said Reyes. “We’re more warmed up and more pumped up.”
Hesselbart noted that his team played with more emotion Saturday as compared to the regular-season meeting.
“We had no intensity and we were amazed at how fast they are,” said Hesselbart. “We just needed to stay compact and play confident. We played scared the first time.”
While the seven goals against bested the school record of nine set by the 2009 Northridge team, Raiders coach Bill Redinger said that was little consolation for a team going after its second sectional crown (the other came in 2007).
“We did a good job of attacking,” said Redinger. “It wasn’t like we didn’t create chances.”
The only time Northridge trailed all season was in its two losses — vs. Homestead and Concord.
Redinger says goodbye to five seniors in Alaina Gingerich, Maggie Lengacher, Dani Jo Owens, Jessica Schultz and Sarah Smith. They are girls he has coached since they were 9 and played for the Middlebury Magic.
2A Goshen Sectional
Concord 1, Northridge 0
C — Jackie Greenawalt (Jen Reyes assist) 67th minute.
Shots on goal: Concord 4, Northridge 2. Saves: Concord — Jenny Miller 2; Northridge — Julina Skow 3. Corners: Concord 2, Northridge 0.
Records: Concord 15-1-2, Northridge 15-2-2.
Next: Concord vs. SB St. Joseph, Warsaw vs. Penn in semifinals Wednesday in Class 2A Goshen Regional, 5 and 7 p.m.; Championship Saturday, 7 p.m.