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Columbus North edges East Central 1-0 for boys soccer regional title
October 20, 2013Columbus North High School
COLUMBUS, Ind. -- Senior Ethan Smith beat East Central goalkeeper Jacob Zengerling in the 34th minute Saturday (Oct. 19), propelling the Columbus North boys soccer team to a 1-0 victory over the Trojans for the championship of the Columbus North Regional.
Senior Riley Belding assisted on the tally for the Class 2A No. 1 and defending state champion Bull Dogs, who improved to 19-0-1 and earned a spot in the Evansville Semistate at noon CDT (1 p.m. EDT) next Saturday (Oct. 26).
Columbus North will play second-ranked Avon (20-0-1) in one semistate semifinal. No. 3 Evansville Memorial (16-1-5) will face co-No. 10 Center Grove (16-3-1) in the other semifinal. The semistate championship game will be at 6 p.m. CDT (7 p.m. EDT) next Saturday (Oct. 26).
The semistate winner qualifies for the 2A state championship game at 6 p.m. Nov. 2 at IUPUI's Carroll Stadium in Indianapolis.
In the regional final, Columbus North controlled much of the action but found the net just one time against East Central (14-6-1), an opponent the Bull Dogs defeated by the same score in their season-opener.
"They fought hard to the end," Belding said of the Trojans. "They gave us a good game. But I felt like our defense did a good job of containing them, while we could have finished more chances. But we're happy with the result and the opportunity to advance."
The single goal proved to be enough as the Bull Dogs' defensive combination of senior Hugh Hamill, senior Will Bridgeman, junior Andrew Gold, sophomore Sam Snider, junior Brayton Thornburg and junior Byron Barger kept East Central from getting any strong chances against CN senior goalkeeper Matt Verplank.
"Our defense did a pretty good job of rotating and pretty much put pressure on them the whole time," said Hamill, who came up with an excellent defensive play on the Trojans' best threat of the day. "I just stayed focused on that play and knew we had to get the ball out.
"For the game, we didn't give them any space and we kept them out of the net."
Senior teammate Parker Hirsch agreed.
"Our defense did a really good job of keeping the ball out of there, keeping it away from pressure," he said.
Verplank made just one save as Columbus North recorded its 11th shutout of the season en route to claiming its third consecutive regional crown and the program's 11th regional title since the IHSAA began holding a state soccer tournament in 1994.
The lone goal came with 6:47 remaining in the first half when Hirsch passed the ball ahead to Belding, who headed it to Smith about 15 yards in front of the goal. Smith then delivered a shot into the net for his team-leading 19th goal of the season. The assist was No. 14 for Belding.
Verplank saw his goal's against average fall to 0.38 for the season.
At Richard Wigh Soccer Complex
East Central .................... 0 0 -- 0
Columbus North ............ 1 0 -- 1
CN -- Ethan Smith (Riley Belding), 34th minute