LYNDHURST—Sydney Helm’s goal with 26 minutes left in the second half carried North to a 1-0 win at Brush in a Division I sectional semifinal on Monday.
The win over the Arcs avenged last season’s postseason loss to Brush.
“It was huge because this is where we lost last year and were eliminated from the tournament,” North coach Mark Wardeiner said.
While Helm’s goal was the difference on the field, the Rangers’ backups and junior varsity players also played a key role.
North and Brush met exactly a week ago with the Rangers earning their first win of the season, 1-0. Wardeiner used that regular-season meeting to prepare for a potential rematch in the playoffs.
“I have to give credit to our players on the bench and the JV players because the last time we played Brush they had specific assignments to look at the girls’ tendencies, some of their better players and what they did and then they reported it to the rest of the team,” Wardeiner said. “Our game plan was around that. We had players do a great job on that scouting report and we were able to execute it today.”
North assaulted the Brush net in the first eight minutes of play but two balls bounced off the post and an open-net shot was tipped at the last second and sailed over the crossbar.
The Rangers kept their cool.
“That’s where teams start yelling at each other or you can tell them to keep trying because we’re creating chances,” Wardeiner said. “That was the most chances we created all season for ourselves, so we were actually happy, but we wish we could have put one in early.”
Helm had three shots just miss the target in the first half.
She made up for it in the second half when she buried an Ella Sirl pass in the net.
“We’ve been concentrating on taking a moment of calmness before they take a shot on goal. Today, I told them to pick your head up one time and then look back down and put it away,” Wardeiner said. “Ella Sirl had a great little touch in for her to run onto it.”
North’s defense protected the lead the rest of the way.
Injuries forced Wardeiner to make changes in goal and junior Bridgette Karr stepped in and has played well for the Rangers, who have now shutout their last four opponents and are 3-0-1 during that stretch.
“We’re really proud of them,” Wardeiner said of his defensive players and Karr. “The defense does a great job of communicating. We had to double team at times today and they did a great job and are making great decisions out there.”
North advanced to the sectional championship game at Mayfield on Thursday.