Pickerington North Roundup: Girls soccer team's run ends in regional semifinal

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
North's Tori Haggit, left, and Kara Thomas show their disappointment after a 2-1 loss (4-3 shootout) to Watterson in a Division I regional semifinal Nov. 3.  The Panthers finished 13-4-3.

The Pickerington North girls soccer team’s road to its fifth Division I district championship in six years and 13th in the program’s 18 seasons did not include any games in which the Panthers could let up. 

The fifth-seeded Panthers defeated 18th-seeded Gahanna 2-1 in the second round Oct. 24, edged 10th-seeded Hilliard Davidson 1-0 in a semifinal Oct. 28 and outlasted third-seeded Dublin Coffman 1-0 in double overtime in a district final three nights later, the team’s second 1-0 win over the Shamrocks this season. 

North’s matchup against Gahanna was a rematch of their scoreless tie Oct. 13, the fourth consecutive year in which the OCC-Ohio Division rivals played to a tie in the regular season. 

Even the Panthers’ 2-1 (4-3 shootout) regional semifinal loss at Watterson on Nov. 3 was a rematch of a 2-0 Eagles’ win on Sept. 12. 

“They’re all big tests (in the postseason) but there’s definitely a different element when you’re playing teams you already know,” coach Doug Peterson said. “I’m pleased with how we pulled together. Coffman, you’re not going to get many chances against them. They’re going to put a lot of pressure on you. They gave us all sorts of problems at the beginning of the game, but in the second half we were able to change a few things and put more pressure on them. We were able to take it to them a little more at that point. 

“Against Gahanna and Davidson, we created a few more but they shut down most of them.” 

Senior defender Kara Thomas scored four minutes into the second overtime against Coffman, heading in a 40-yard free kick from junior defender Jordan Maruskin. 

“I saw the ball, I flicked it with my head and it just went in and everyone after that just dogpiled me,” Thomas said. “All the girls are closer (than earlier this season). Team chemistry I think is the main thing. We were putting all of our hard work in.” 

Senior forward Jackie Norris scored against Watterson to tie the game at 1 late in the first half, but that was the final time anyone found the net until the shootout. Both teams made three of their first four, but Watterson connected on its final opportunity. 

The Panthers finished 13-4-3. 

The win over Coffman was North’s fourth shutout in five games dating to its scoreless tie against Gahanna. With senior Dru Ultican and sophomore Sofia Walton in goal, the Panthers had seven shutout wins. 

Norris is an Indiana Wesleyan commit, and senior forward Tori Haggit plans to sign with Western Michigan. 

Other players eligible to return include junior Kate Mizer (midfielder), sophomores Olivia Boggs (defender), Kylie Mizer (forward) and Cate Pickering (defender) and freshman Ayla Briones (forward/midfielder). 

“This (late-season) success (was) awesome to see,” Peterson said. “They understood what we needed to do to get this done.” 

North's Uche Odemena controls the ball against Westland earlier this season. The Panthers lost to New Albany 2-1 in a Division I regional semifinal Nov. 4 to finish 16-3-1.

Boys soccer team 

wins district title

Despite being seeded fourth, the boys soccer team was the first team to settle into its part of the bracket in the Division I district tournament after third-seeded Olentangy Liberty passed. 

The Patriots picked the same district as North to set up a potential district final meeting, which the visiting Panthers won 1-0 on Oct. 31. Ethan Yurko scored with 10 minutes to play, giving North its second district championship in three years. 

Goalie Ty Bowden stopped two more Liberty shots in a 25-second span late in the game to preserve the win. 

“This time of year, you just gut it out and get a win and move on to the next round so we’re very proud of our boys and how hard they played,” coach Darrin Monhollen said. “Ty Bowden is someone who really is vocal and has got a good vision of everything happening in front of him. He’s a great athlete and we count on him to make a big save or two every game and he does not disappoint. 

North’s postseason run ended in its next game, as the Panthers lost 2-1 to OCC-Ohio rival New Albany in a regional semifinal Nov. 4 to finish 16-3-1. 

Cam Stanzione scored with 14 minutes left to trim a two-goal deficit and Bowden made four saves, but the Panthers got no closer to the Eagles, who also won the regular-season matchup 1-0 on Oct. 6.   

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekDave 

GIRLS SOCCER 

Record: 13-4-3 overall 

OCC-Ohio standings: New Albany (5-0), Pickerington North (3-1-1), Grove City (3-2), Gahanna (2-2-1), Westerville Central (1-4), Westland (0-5) 

Seniors lost: Sarah Beechy, Morgan Dragich, Tori Haggit, Serenity Mason, Jackie Norris, Alex Stein, Kara Thomas and Drew Ultican 

Key returnees: Olivia Boggs, Ayla Briones, Kate Mizer, Cate Pickering and Sofia Walton  

Postseason: Defeated Gahanna 2-0; def. Hilliard Davidson 1-0; def. Dublin Coffman 1-0; lost to Watterson 2-1 (4-3 shootout) in Division I regional semifinal