This is what Northwestern’s boys soccer team has been waiting for. This week, this opportunity.
Heading into today’s Class A Tipton Regional game against Crawfordsville, the Purple Tigers are relishing the chance to make waves at this level after losing in the opening round to Guerin Catholic last season. Northwestern (15-2) has seven more wins than it did at this point last year. The Tigers meet the Athenians (12-6) at 5 p.m. today. The teams didn’t meet in the regular season. The second semifinal pits Muncie Burris (15-2) vs. Class A No. 1 Guerin Catholic (16-0-1) at approximately 7 p.m.
“They’re really enjoying this week. There’s a lot of excitement and they’re having a good time, but they’re working hard at the same time,” NW coach Jim Wagner said. He noted the team’s group spirit as a strength. “The guys, you could just feel the energy [at the sectional]. They wanted it so badly that that’s going to be different for us this year is the desire to win is in everybody, and they’re really going to do everything they can to make sure it happens.
“It’s a lot of fun when you see the guys. I mentioned before, I’m not having to push them. They want me to push more, they want more difficult things to do in practice. They’re looking forward to the more difficult challenge this week in regionals.”
First up for the Purple Tigers is an unknown element in Crawfordsville. It will take a feeling-out process to determine how best to defend and attack the Athenians.
“They have a group of guys that put up the goals for them, there’s not necessarily one guy,” Wagner said. “Jose Cortez is maybe their main guy. We’ll certainly have to keep our eyes on him. We expect it’ll be a good team effort. We’re not going to key on any one or two people. We’ll have to play everybody pretty evenly until we determine who are their main threats.”