WOODBURN – Norwell kept Leo off the scoreboard during the first half Monday night – an accomplishment, considering the Lions scored four goals in the first half when the teams met in August.
And Leo didn't score in the final 30 minutes Monday, either.
But the Lions struck twice in less than 21/2 minutes early in the second half, enough to give Leo (11-3-1) a 2-0 boys soccer victory in the opening round of the Class 2A Woodlan Sectional.
“We've got a good group, I've got 10 seniors. I have no complaints, they played together and they played well,” Leo coach Trevor Peaslee said. “It's been a long year. It's been a weird year. I think you'll hear that from every single coach. Weird in every single way.”
The Lions, who moved up to No. 10 in the final Indiana Soccer Coaches Association poll released Monday, spent much of the early part of the match threatening on Norwell's side of the pitch but had relatively few real scoring chances to show for it.
“Jamie's teams are always really well organized. They make it tough, and I think you saw that,” Peaslee said, referring to Norwell coach James Feldheiser. “It takes a long time to break them down. So just being organized ourselves, that's the big thing. Keep plugging away at it.”
That mentality finally paid off with 34:34 to play in the match, as senior forward Parker Bonin scored with an assist from sophomore midfielder Alex McKinney.
“When you're going at the keeper, things slow down,” Bonin said. “I saw the left side open up, so I decided to take the shot with my left foot.”
The Leo onslaught continued in the minutes that followed, and at 32:11 sophomore forward Semih Kose tapped the ball past Norwell junior goalkeeper Jacob Kintz once again. McKinney also assisted on the second goal.
“We could tell they were getting frustrated, so at half the message really wasn't about changing anything, it was just fine-tuning some of our passing and our finishing offensively,” Feldheiser said. “They caught us twice when we were out of position. And good teams like Leo are obviously going to make you pay.”
The Lions move on to play Bishop Luers at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the sectional semifinals. Norwell (10-6-1) turns its sights to next year.
“When we played them in August (and lost 4-0), they were our first conference (NE8) game, our only conference loss. And as we watched the film of that, we see that we're giving them 10 yards of space on the ball, and that opens up so many possibilities for where the ball goes next,” Feldheiser said. “We took that away, tightening up to about two, three yards apart, and forced them into some mistakes we didn't force them into the last time.”
Bishop Dwenger (10-4) faces Heritage (10-3-1) at 5 p.m. today, and Woodlan (7-7-2) plays Bellmont (3-8-2) at 7 p.m.