If the girls soccer team is going to reclaim the sectional title, the path goes through No. 7 Columbus North, who defeated Center Grove in last year’s sectional championship game 2-0. After tying Columbus North 2-2 in the season opener, the team is looking for a rematch; however, they must face Franklin Community (8-6-1) in the first round.
In the opening game, Center Grove faces the challenge of Franklin goalkeeper Addie Marshal, who tallied 181 saves this season and 605 in her high school career. Marshal has been the backbone of Franklin’s defense, and Center Grove junior forward Emily Karr knows the team will have to make a more tactical approach when facing her.
“Addie Marshal is a great keeper but it’s nothing that my team can’t handle,” Karr. “Our plan is to get a lot of good crosses into the box that would draw the keeper out. I believe as long as we finish the opportunities we get, we will go far in the tournament.”
Franklin Community’s offense has mostly run through Mollie Hill, who has scored 19 goals, and Erica Buening with 15. CG senior center back Ava Crowe knows the team has to alter its methods when confronting these two attackers.
“We’re going to use our new formation to contain them in the midfield as much as possible and prevent them from receiving and controlling the ball,” Crowe said. “Using our defense as merely a clean-out method is the most ideal situation when facing them.”
If Center Grove defeats Franklin, they have a likely matchup with Columbus North waiting in the sectional semi-final. If No. 8 Center Grove is going to advance to the sectional championship, they will have to contain Emily Ellis, who has 11 goals and 7 assists on the season. However, Center Grove won’t have to contend with Columbus North’s most dangerous offensive threat, Jenna Lang, who is likely out of sectionals after suffering a knee injury.
“In order to overcome [Columbus North], we will have to bring our best selves to the game,” sophomore midfielder Taylor Wert said. “It’ll be crucial that we combine well and move the ball around quickly.”
Offensively, the Trojans won’t have a cake walk dealing with a team who only allowed 1.29 goals per game. Molly Gilley, Columbus North’s starting goalkeeper, has only allowed 10 goals this season, with a total of 31 saves. Junior midfielder Molly Tapak hopes the lineup change for the Trojans improves the team’s chances against a strong Bull Dog defense.
“With the new formation we have been doing lately, our attack is focused on going through the midfield. Columbus North has a strong left side of their defense, Nitya Chenada and Riley Schumm, so we will get them out of balance by shifting the ball quickly from both sides of the field,” Tapak said.
A sectional win would advance the team to the Regional for the first time since 2019 and avenge last year’s 2-0 sectional loss to Columbus North.
“[Beating Columbus North] would pave the way for an easier sectional championship,” said head coach Mike Bishop. “We need to keep ourselves going and keep the momentum building.”