ELKHART — A goal from senior Maddy Wienert in the 50th minute proved to be enough for Northridge as they knocked off Goshen, 1-0, in the opening game of the Class 3A, Sectional 4 girls soccer tournament at Elkhart High School West (old Elkhart Memorial).
Northridge (8-6-1) advances to play Elkhart (3-6-1) in the sectional semifinals at 7 p.m. Thursday at Elkhart West. The first sectional semifinal Thursday features Penn (7-8-1) facing Concord (7-5-3) at 5 p.m.
“Goshen had a little bit of the momentum; we started pushing a little bit higher, we got a deflection off them trying to play the ball long and it bounced to (Wienert),” said Northridge coach Chris Malott of the deciding goal. “She took a touch and was able to finish.”
Northridge and Goshen faced off in the regular season, with the Raiders getting a 5-2 victory on Aug. 29. Tuesday’s game was much closer, with both teams getting decent scoring chances throughout the first half. Neither team was able to break through, though, as it remained scoreless heading into halftime.
Out of the break, Goshen came out as the aggressor. Senior Maddie Swallow in particular had a couple of shots toward the net, but two went sailing over the crossbar and a third was stopped by Northridge senior goaltender Alex Sheets.
“One of us was going to go forward in the second half, and I said, ‘let’s let it be us, right from the start,’” said Goshen coach Myron Bontreger of his halftime speech to his team. “And, I thought we came out with a lot of momentum. We had a lot of dangerous shots; the goalie made one great save.”
Malott thought his goalkeeper played well Tuesday in recording the shutout.
“She was really good in between the posts,” Malott said. “She made, what we would consider to be routine saves for her. She came up with the normal saves that we expect; nothing out of the ordinary expected from her tonight. We rely on her.”
After the initial surge from the RedHawks, the Minutemen were able to launch a counterattack that led to the Wienert goal. Northridge’s tough defense was then able to keep Goshen off the scoreboard the rest of the way.
The RedHawks season ends with an 9-8-1 record overall. There were some ups-and-downs throughout the season, but Bontreger is happy with the direction the program is going.
“I told the girls that we had kind of, in the last several years, been on the down slope and it was time for this group of girls to turn it back up,” Bontreger said. “And I felt like we did. We only had six wins last season — we had nine wins this season. Except for when we were without players early on, I thought we were competitive all year … Once we got everyone back, it was a very competitive group. We have a lot of young players that contributed, so I’m going to say that’s something to feel good about moving forward.”
The Raiders now get to play Elkhart, a team they lost to, 3-2, in the first game of the season.
“More than excited to keep the season going,” Malott said. “We didn’t think we were going to get one to begin with, so to get an extra game in this year is always a plus. To play Elkhart is a big one; that was our first game of the year two days after COVID clearance, so it’ll be a big game for us to show that we’ve improved through the year.”