MIDDLEBURY — Never being a program to shy away from top-notch competition, the Northridge High School girls soccer team hosted the No. 5-ranked Homestead Spartans Saturday afternoon at Todd Woodworth Field in Middlebury.
The unranked Raiders were in a scoreless battle with the highly rated Spartans for nearly 58 minutes before Homestead found the back of the net twice over the final 22 minutes for a hard-fought 2-0 win.
Northridge falls to 3-5 on the season, but according to coach Chris Malott, Homestead is the fifth ranked team the Raiders have played this season.
“Homestead is ranked and they were the Class 3A state runner-up a year ago, the coach said. “We have lost to all the ranked teams we have played, but we have played most of them close.”
Besides Homestead, the Raiders have lost to No. 16 Carroll 2-1, No. 4 Evansville Memorial 5-0, No. 7 Valparaiso 5-0 and No. 9 Penn 2-0.
The Raiders entered the contest with a 4-2-1 record against the Spartans over the past seven seasons, according to former Northridge coach Bill Redinger, who was announcing Saturday’s contest.
“Northridge always gives us a good game. That is one of the reasons why we like to play them,” Homestead coach Rick Link said.
Northridge’s defense, led by senior goalie Hope Stacker, kept the Raiders in the match.
“Homestead controlled the game,” Malott said. “No. 4 (junior Alexis Cantasano) has a motor for them. She kept things going for Homestead. We didn’t mark up the way we should have or shift at the right times. We were not always in the right spots.”
Stacker made seven keeper saves to keep the Raiders in the contest.
“Hope made some spectacular saves,” Malott said.
The Spartans got on the scoreboard at 22:53 of the second half on a goal by freshman Sydney Couch and followed up with another at 11:20 when junior Taylor Archbold drilled one home off a corner kick from senior Lauren Moellering.
“We knew the Northridge defense was good. Their goalie (Stacker) kept them in the game,” Link said. “We talked about some changes at halftime. One of the things was to drive the ball deeper to the end line to keep the Northridge’s goalie from coming out.
“Our first goal was a great shot and the second was off a corner, but neither one were off set plays.”
One of Homestead’s better players — sophomore Amelia White — missed the game. The Penn State recruit is a member of the U.S. National U-17 team and is playing for the team in Sweden.
A year ago, she scored 16 goals and assisted on nine others as a freshman for the Spartans.
“She is a good player, but I think Homestead played more of a team game today,” Malott said. “I’m not sure she would have made a big difference in the game.”
The Spartans controlled the game by keeping the ball in Northridge’s defensive end of the field. Homestead had a 9-3 edge in shots on goal and a 13-1 lead in corner kicks.
Senior Holly Cole made three keeper saves for the Spartans.
Homestead improves to 7-2 on the season.
The JV ended in a 1-1 tie.