The Northeast District Athletic Board on Sunday released the pairings for its boys and girls soccer and volleyball tournaments.
North’s boys’ soccer team earned the top seed in the Division I Mentor District. The Rangers last earned a No. 1 seed in 2005.
The Rangers, who are 9-4-2 overall, open the playoffs at home on Oct. 19 in a sectional championship against the winner of the game between No. 8 Willoughby South and No. 9 Cleveland Heights.
“We’re having a very consistent season,” North coach Steve Misick said. “Hard work is paying off, but it puts a lot of pressure on us. We’re now a big target. We still have to play the game. Focus is the key word, starting tonight against Brush.”
Before North can begin to focus on the playoffs, the Rangers have an equally important task in front of them on Monday as they host Brush. A win over the Arcs would clinch the Western Reserve Conference title for the Rangers, who currently are 4-1-1 in league play.
North’s girls’ soccer team earned the No. 9 seed in the Division I Mentor District and opens postseason play at No. 8 Brush in a sectional semifinal on Oct. 14.
Incidentally, the Rangers travel to Brush on Oct. 7 for a regular-season matchup against the Arcs. The winner advances to play at top-seeded Mayfield in a sectional championship game on Oct. 17.
North is 0-11-3 on the year with two regular-season games remaining.
Head coach Mark Wardeiner hopes to win at least one of the two regular-season games heading into the postseason.
The Rangers do have some momentum after earning a 0-0 draw against a quality Wickliffe side on Saturday.
“We felt great after the game,” Wardeiner said. “That was one of our top-performing games as a team where we were able to play a full 80 minutes. In the last few games, it took us about 10 minutes to get started. In this game, we started right away.”
Without a hole to dig out of, the Rangers were able to maintain an offensive attack while also keeping the Blue Devils from building up their own attack.
“That started in the back,” Wardeiner said. “Bridgette Karr, who usually starts at forward, is now in goal due to injuries. She’s communicating well with the defenders and they’re starting to win the ball earlier. We got great service from Brooke Lombardo and Sally Dempsey up to our forwards. That was also the most corner kicks and the most attack we’ve had.”
Despite their lack of wins, the Rangers have maintained their intensity and effort in each game.
“The parents and the coaches have mentioned to these girls, they’ll fight until the end,” Wardeiner said. “There are games where we’ve been down 6-0 and they continue to fight to try and get that one goal. In a couple games, we’ve scored a goal in the last five minutes. We still lost but that shows a lot about their character and that will serve them well the rest of their lives.”
North’s volleyball team earned the No. 5 seed in the Division I Euclid District.
The Rangers, who improved to 10-10 overall with a 3-0 win at Berkshire on Saturday, will play No. 12 Cleveland Heights at Euclid on Oct. 15. The winner advances to play No. 4 South in a sectional final on Oct. 17.