Strong second half lifts Northridge past Elkhart Central

Russ Draper/Elkhart Truth PhotoNorthridge’s Ben Miller (18) collides with Elkhart Central’s Brendon Brown (10) as the Central goalkeeper (1) slides in to cover the ball.

ELKHART — At halftime, Northridge boys soccer coach Lawrence Baltazar was frustrated with his team’s play Tuesday against Elkhart Central as the match was scoreless.

His anger grew when disputing a call to start the second half. Eventually, the Raiders coach received a yellow card. 

Baltazar’s unhappiness then subsided as his squad picked up its offensive play and posted a 3-0 win over the Blue Blazers.

“I thought there was a foul on Cam (Chappell) there so I was a little disappointed,” said Baltazar on why he got a yellow card. 

“But I think a lot of that was the frustration I had towards my own team so I lost my composure a little bit. That was definitely my fault. I deserved the yellow card.”

Baltazar was asked what affect that moment had on his team.

“I got on them a little bit at halftime,” the Raiders coach said. “I thought they came out a little stronger in the second half. I don’t want to do that to my team. We have a mature and experienced enough team where I shouldn’t have to do that. It’s early (in the season) and, hopefully, it’s the last time I have to do that.”

Freshman Micah Wieland ignited the Raiders, as his shot from 15 yards produced the first goal of the contest. There was 27:03 left in the match when Wieland scored.

“I’m not surprised at all,” Baltazar said about Wieland who started and played about 60 minutes. “He’s shown in practice that he should be on the field. He’s very capable of putting the ball in the back of the next and helping us create offense. I feel very confident with him out there.”

Late in the match, the Raiders scored twice. Drew Collins scored inside the goalie box off a nice assist from Brody Gust with 1:00 left. A few seconds later, Marcos Loring scored in close range off a pass from Cam Chappell. 

The Blue Blazers, who finished with only seven shots on goal, had two great scoring chances. Bryan Ramirez had a shot go high from five yards with 5:00 left in the first half and Central had a goal from Christopher Hernandez taken away because of an illegal touch with 13:00 left in the match.

“The ref was saying that one of our guys, who wasn’t offsides, touched it on the way in,” said Central coach Sherwin Simon. “I beg to difer. I don’t think he did that. If that goal would have counted it’s a 1-1 game and it changes things a little bit. But it comes with the game and it happens.”

The Blue Blazers, who fell to 1-2, might have been affected by a tough schedule to start the season.

“We didn’t get anything going the whole game,” Simon said. “I’m not making excuses, but we opened the season on Saturday against Goshen (2-0 win) and we playing another ranked team in Hammond Morton on Tuesday (3-2 loss) and I think we were out of gas tonight. We saw that the entire game tonight. There’s bumps and bruises and nicks that were dealing with right now. 

“But (Northridge) is a good team. They were able to finish with their shots.” 

Defensively, Baltazar talked about the strategy his team used after taking the lead.

“Once we went up a goal we were man marking Bryan Ramirez with Carter Stoltzfus, which I think helped us out,” Baltazar said. “Once (Central) went down a goal they moved Bryan up so we countered that with man-marking him because Bryan is too good to let float around up there.    

NORTHRIDGE 3, ELKHART CENTRAL 0

N - Micah Wieland 53rd minute.

N - Drew Collins (Brody Gust assist) 76th.

N - Marcos Loring (Cam Chappell) 80th.

Shots on goal: Northridge 6, Central 7.

Goalie saves: Northridge - Cameron Graber 3; Central - Carlos Alvarado 1.

Corner kicks: Northridge 2, Central 0.

Records: Northridge 1-1, Central 1-2.

JV: Northridge 3, Central 2.

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