Western and Northwestern will meet for the third time this season on Saturday. The old rivals booked tickets to a third tussle with comfortable victories Thursday night in the semifinals of the Northwestern Girls Soccer Sectional.

Northwestern opened the semis with a 4-0 victory over Mississinewa and Western followed with a 10-0 domination of Peru.

The championship is at 7 p.m. Saturday. Western won two regular season matchups between the two, 3-0 on Sept. 19, then 4-1 on Sept. 26 in the Hoosier Conference Tournament. Both games were at Northwestern.


The Purple Tigers turned the game their way almost instantly when Joan Easter hit the net after a pass from Rebecca Lagoni in the second minute. Nine minutes later, Sarah Castillo scored to give the Tigers a cushion.

“It lifted them up, they started playing better, their confidence was up the whole game instead of when we go half the game before we score a goal,” NW coach Kevin Smith said of putting a quick goal on the scoreboard.

Northwestern struck again in the 51st minute. Ashlyn Johnson slotted a sharp ball from the left wing and Lagoni took a controlling touch then scored near post. Seven minutes later, Easter scored again, catching up to a long ball over the top from Alivia Leeman and scoring off the far post as Mississinewa’s goalie charged out to try and break up the play.

“Our through passes worked well,” Smith said. “We were controlling the midfield so that went well for us. We got two quick goals and I think that kind of deflated them a little bit. They still played hard, they played tough.”

Mississinewa closes the season 7-7-1. Northwestern takes an 10-10-1 record into the sectional final.

“I feel really confident,” Smith said of his team’s play at this point in the season. “I’m glad we’re there. It was hit or miss with our season the way we were playing. It’s the best time of the year to peak in the sectionals and I think we’re peaking right now.”


Western established control of play in the first few minutes and opened the scoring in the sixth minute when Audrey Rassel’s through ball put Lucy Weigt in to score at the near post. Rassel got the next goal, charging in on the back post to convert a Sophie Weigt cross two minutes later.

Lucy Weigt got another goal in the 16th minute, stealing a ball at the top of the box and scoring for a 3-0 lead less than a quarter of the way through the game. Elder sister Sophie Weigt got the next goal, controlling a loose ball 20 yards out, turning and firing to the side net. Sophie Weigt set up the final goal of the half, sending a piercing ball to free Sammie Garber for a strike.

“We talked all week about finishing because I think last week we outshot McCutcheon and lost,” Western coach Abby Workman said. “It was kind of disappointing, so we really talked this week about just finishing our chances. [We worked at] just getting everybody in there with the mentality of hitting the net and not hitting the goalie’s hands because last week we shot a ton at the goalie, so that was the big difference.”

In the second half, Rassel and Lucy Weigt combined to create a chance for Sophie Weigt to gain control and score. Western goalie Madlyn Beechy put on a white jersey and played in the field in the second half, scoring a penalty. Chansy Faedlin scored on a feed by Andrea Reeder, and Lavi Steffens scored on a cross by Liza Szerdy. Another goal came via a Bengal Tiger own goal.

The Panthers dominated the ball and showed an improved level of play on the fast artificial surface which puts a premium on halting bouncing balls and not leading passes much.

“We have been practicing in our field house every day until 5 o’clock, then we go out to the field for an hour,” Workman said. “It’s made a big difference. We’ve focused on trapping balls down and eliminating bouncing when they’re at our feet, just working on controlling better on a quicker surface. That was a big thing that stood out to us in our conference [final] loss was we needed more time on a smooth, quick surface, so definitely we looked a lot better.”

Goalies Molly Gray and Jazlyn Korving were busy for Peru (3-8-1). Gray had 11 saves in the first half and Korving had five stops in the second half. Western starter Beechy didn’t touch the ball in the first half. Backup goalie Anna Bowlby had one save in the second half.

“Great team win. It was our 10th shutout and we’re trying for 11 on Saturday,” Workman said.

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