Times Sports Editor
A pair of experienced Sullivan Golden Arrow soccer teams visited Northview on Wednesday night and came away with victories over the Knights.
The Sullivan girls clinched a conference championship with a 6-1 win over the Knights as junior Christina Haag tallied a first half hat trick in the victory. The Northview boys got off to a slow start, trailing 2-0 at halftime and couldn't dent the scoreboard in a 5-0 defeat to the Arrows.
"That's been a good group of guys," Northview boys' coach, Don Bryan said of Sullivan's upper classmen. "They've just never seemed to be able to find their stride and now it seems like they are."
Sullivan juniors, Kyle Wilson and Cody Harrison, bookended the first half with goals that made Northview's job that much more difficult in the conference struggle.
The Arrows kept the pressure on early after Wilson's goal less than four minutes into the game and Tucker Smith's shot minutes later was deflected away.
Northview recovered on offense to get a quality shot off a corner kick with 13 minutes remaining in the half, but missed a header in the box. The Knights' keeper, Jacob Booker, made a nice save moments later to keep it a one-goal deficit.
Northview's Dylan Dyer followed with a chipped shot into the Sullivan goal mouth that the Arrows' keeper was able to punch out of danger with 6:30 left before the half.
With just minutes before the break, Sullivan's Harrison took a nice chip pass from Smith and deposited the shot into the net for a 2-0 halftime advantage.
"You can't say enough about our guys hustling to the ball and playing hard every time," Bryan said. "It just kind of reminds me of a couple of years ago when I first came back (to coach). It just takes us so long to find the net and towards the end it was almost as if they were trying too hard and when you try too hard, you just get flustered and frustrated. Kicks you normally put in, you're missing, hitting them wide.
Eric Fults and Josh Sparks combined on another good scoring chance, but the shot was knocked down.
The Arrows responded quickly afterwards as Smith fed the ball to Liam Beard for a scoring shot to the corner at the 32:28 mark and minutes later, Beard added a second goal for a 4-0 lead. A penalty kick at the 28-minute mark was capitalized on by Harrison and the lead had quickly ballooned to 5-0 midway through the second half.
Northview played hard down the stretch, getting multiple good looks at the goal, but couldn't find the net as Alex Frankville shot wide and a wide-open Kaleb Britton was barely offside on another chance.
Sparks and Nees had two more shots on net that went unrewarded over the final 10 minutes.
"I thought (Sean) Brockman had some nice shots at the end. Nick Ross played extremely well and defensively, you're just not going to beat Levi (Pollard) and Jonathan (Stinnett) with speed," Bryan said. "We've been beaten, but it's on repetitive shots. We don't like giving corners, because they've hurt us all season so far. We controlled a half, but just couldn't find the net."
In the girls game, Sullivan used the same formula as their boys side would in the second game, getting three quick goals, one from Kelsey Burr to open the game and two more from Haag.
"I think they got a bit down," Northview girls' coach Lauren Trennel said after the three-goal outburst by Sullivan. "What happened I think is (Sullivan) caught us flat. They were working it through out midfield and we specifically changed the way our midfield was set up because we were beat through the midfield against Danville. We just didn't have our players where they needed to be. We added another central midfielder and they still found holes in it. So it was just a matter of being aware of where we were."
Haag's quickness has confounded most teams over her previous two years of varsity playing time and Sullivan knows exactly how to exploit her talents as Northview chased Haag and her quick front-line teammates in the first half.
"We knew coming in that they had one particularly fast forward, but we didn't man mark her because we weren't sure of how it was going to go yet," Trennel said of defending Haag. "We just wanted to see how the game played out."
The Arrows scored all six of their goals in the first half before the Knights seemed to settle in against Sullivan's junior varsity players in the second half.
Northview's Gwen Snow missed off a corner shot at the 19-minute mark before Lauren Webster got the Knights on the board when she scored off a penalty kick after Melissa Lummis was taken down in the penalty box.
The Knights kept the pressure on with a shot by Krista Stearley that was just high of the cross bar with 17 minutes left and Jennifer Junker hit the post five minutes later.
Northview's continued pressure forced Sullivan's coaches to return the starters to the field and the Knights held them scoreless the rest of the way.
Trennel was pleased with her team's pressure in the second half, but was disappointed with the slow start that put the Knights in a big hole.
"In the first half it seemed like we just didn't want the ball and that's on (the team). They just have to want it," Trennel said.
Both Northview squads will be back in action on Saturday with a trip to Greencastle for a boy/girl doubleheader.