A leak sprung early, then came a flood of seven more goals over a 45-minute span.
Bloomington North tossed all of its bench on the field by the end, save for its backup keeper, yet it kept coming. And not just the goals, but more importantly for the Cougars, the teamwork, crisp passing and unselfish play that highlighted an 8-0 rout of Northview in the opener of the Class 3A Bloomington South boys’ soccer sectional on Monday.
Goals in the first two minutes of each half set a tone for the night and sent the Cougars (7-8-3) into what should be a much tougher assignment in the semifinals against the host Panthers on Wednesday at 6 p.m. So it’s a start, but a much better one than the last few years.
“They really got us motivated,” said junior midfielder Ian Holtz-Hazeltine, who cracked the dam with the first goal. “Last year in the sectional semifinals and my freshman year, we got scored on first, and we got our heads down and we didn’t play our game.
“So it was good to get started early and get into a groove. Pretty much every game this year, when we scored first, we won. It was just good to exert our will, really.”
North had six assists and got goals from six players, including two each from Holtz-Hazeltine and Sandro Smith.
“Early goals always help,” North coach Hsiung Marler said. “They can hurt, too, and we’ve been hurt by them this year, so it’s nice to be the team that got up for a change. It put a big stamp on the game, which helped our confidence.
“But tonight, I thought we did a good job moving the ball. Last game at Jeffersonville, we moved the ball really well and came away with a 1-0 loss. But I felt like we continued what we did well in that game, which was good.”
As a result, the stats were as stilted as the final score, a 37-0 edge in shots taken, including 26 on goal, and 11 corners, to just one for the Knights, who depended on 15 saves from Austin Lane to keep it from getting worse.
Holtz-Hazeltine got the Cougars rolling just 1:07 in when Smith fired a shot on goal, which ricocheted off the keeper and right to the junior midfielder, who put the ball away for a quick 1-0 lead. There was a near 20-minute wait for Nos. 2 and 3, which came in quick succession as North continued to press.
Both came from Smith, who won a battle in front of the net to score with 19:03 left in the first half, then the sophomore put home a corner kick from Sekou Noble-Kuchera with 17:48 on the clock for a 3-0 lead that held until halftime.
From that point on, it was a matter of continuing to play the right way.
“We talked about keeping focus,” Holtz-Hazeltine said. “Keep playing our game. You start getting up, you want guys to get in and score goals. But you have to keep it one touch, two touch, not just dribble and ‘I want to score.’
“We switched the ball pretty well. That’s how I got that first goal.”
And how Adrian Reed got the fourth just 41 seconds into the second half, getting a diagonal feed while making a run into the right side of the box and sending it toward the far post and past the keeper for a 4-0 lead.
Kyle Trilling took a shot from about 25 yards out and his rising shot got past Lane’s gloves and snuck just under the crossbar with 33:10 left to make it 5-0. Holtz-Hazeltine’s next shot took a bad hop over the diving keeper. Kaan Silay scored, and Eli Ladd beat the keeper to a loose ball in the box with 14:30 to go to cap the effort.
“The nice thing tonight, we were able to do some things well early, and we stayed focused, which is sometimes hard in a game like this,” Marler said. “You get people just trying to get their goal, their opportunity. We stayed locked in.
“We subbed. Everybody on the bench played, and they played 10-15-20 minutes. We got guys who, when we put them in, stayed in the flow of what we were trying to do. That was as important as anything else. Eli, who had that last goal, he’s a sophomore who didn’t play last year. Jallah Barbu and Broc Murphy, those guys are our future, and it was good to see them step in and not miss a beat.”