Times Sports Editor
The Northview soccer teams have had their growing pains at times this season with some tough losses mixed with confidence building victories. On Thursday evening, the girls and boys' teams each left feeling the joys of a conference victory.
The Northview girls threatened early and often with the wind at their backs, but couldn't find the net until less than 14 minutes remained in the half. However, once the spell had been broken, the Knights responded with six more goals, four in the second half of an impressive 7-0 victory.
"We still came out a little slow, which has been our problem lately. We've just been a second half team and you just have to be an 80 minute team," Northview girls' coach Lauren Trennel said. "The ball movement was decent and we were given the time to move the ball so I think that helped us. We liked what we saw, the ideas were there, we are still just working on that touch."
The Northview boys had a tougher challenge on their hands as a very resilient Wildcats' squad kept the pressure on until the final whistle as darkness descended on the field. South Vermillion drew within a goal in the second half, but a goal with 24:32 left sealed a 4-2 victory in a game halted with 15:44 left due to darkness.
"That puts us at 3-3 (in the conference), it's going to depend on what some other teams do," Northview boys' coach Don Bryan said. "They played well, but even tonight there were some flashes where they were overplaying. Not a bad team effort, they've played hard all year, but I think the Brown County game was the only game where they kind of let up."
Bryan was pleased to see his team score late to give the Knights the final cushion.
"This time they didn't (let up), they kept going. When you are playing against a good keeper, you can't take anything away from that. (South Vermillion's) keeper definitely kept them in the game," Bryan said.
The Northview girls used a steady wind to their advantage in the first half and nearly found the net several times early on. Lauren Webster and Krista Stearley got good looks with 24 minutes left in the first half before Stearley fired a shot high of the cross bar.
Eventually it was Emma Barnett who got Northview on the board as she lofted as shot from 20 feet out that slipped under the crossbar for a 1-0 lead.
That tally seemed to open the floodgates as Libby Deckard scored off a pass from Melissa Lummis, just five minutes later on a nearly identical shot. Lummis then added her own goal with 4:16 left in the half, squeezing a shot inside the post for a 3-0 halftime lead.
In the second half the Knights had no such problems scoring barely a minute after the break as Allison McWilliams scored off a corner kick from Char Herr-Smith. McWilliams gathered in a loose ball in the box and deposited the Knights' fourth goal.
The game settled into a rhythm over the next 25 minutes with Alexis Bender clearing a Wildcats' chance with 13 minutes remaining. That was South Vermillion's last real scoring chance as Northview found their offensive groove again late.
Krista Stearley scored off a breakaway on a pass from McWilliams with 8:56 left in the game and Lauren Webster took a headed pass from Lummis, dribbled 10 feet and found the net for a 6-0 lead. Webster then added her second goal of the game with just 10 seconds left.
"Our second half, it just proves we're a different team. We came out, played hard, we just need to have that in the first half," Trennel said.
"We've moved some players around quite a bit this season and we've finally found a formation that is working with our players and our skills. We've finally got that rotation in sync," Trennel added.
In the boys' game, Northview got the opening score of the game with 18:48 in the first half as Eric Fults' shot was blocked by the Wildcats' keeper. However, the shot squirted free and Nick Ross was there for the score.
Northview keeper, Jacob Booker, made a couple of nice early saves, one of them a diving stop at the 22-minute mark to keep the lead intact.
South Vermillion's Jacob Gilman changed that at the 10:43 mark when he headed in a corner kick to knot the score at 1-all.
The Knights kept pressing the ball forward and a feed from Sean Brockman to Fults was shot high. Brockman would give Northview the lead with under a minute left in the half as he made a long run and chipped the ball over the keeper's head for a 2-1 lead.
In the second half, Alex Frankville was turned away 10 minutes into the half as his shot was deflected wide. However, less than two minutes later, Frankville had a corner kick and curled the shot into the goalmouth where it clanged off the far post and into the net.
With the action going end-to-end for several minutes, it was the Wildcats' Adam Smith that answered with a run past midfield. His shot across the box was just out of Booker's reach and the lead had shrunk to 3-2 with 26:20 left.
Gilman nearly got South Vermillion even minutes later when he broke free along the endline and chipped a shot high towards the goal. However, Booker made a leaping snag to deny the tying score.
Twenty-three seconds later, it was Fults that gave the Knights the final cushion as he chipped a ball away from the Wildcats' keeper and sent the fourth goal home. Austin Frankville narrowly missed a beautiful assist in the final minutes as his crossing pass was just out of the reach of Ross, who was flying towards the net.
Minutes later the head official called the game due to darkness with the Knights claiming the win.
The Northview girls visit Terre Haute South on Sept. 28 at 5 p.m. and the boys host the Braves the same night.