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Written By Ink Free News / Sports on Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Rylee Burns and Abby Steffensmeier hug after a goal late in Warsaw’s sectional win over Fort Wayne Wayne Tuesday night. (Photos by James Costello)

WARSAW — Coming off their NLC championship match-up with Northridge last week, the No. 19-ranked Lady Tigers didn’t get off to a perfect start in their Class 3-A Sectional 7-opener with Fort Wayne Wayne Tuesday.

Still, the home team was more than good enough, and Warsaw eventually rolled to a lopsided, 7-1 win over the Generals to advance to Thursday’s semifinals opposite Fort Wayne South Side.

“I’m proud of our team. We weren’t very clean tonight, but we scored when we needed to and I thought we finished the ball pretty well,” said Warsaw head coach Jon Hoover.

Audrey Grimm races Kayla Bliven in the first half.

The Tigers got on the scoreboard in the ninth minute when Audrey Grimm found Gracie Scholl on a cross, and Scholl tucked it just under the crossbar to put her team up 1-0. Wayne countered quickly, however, with an equalizer from Myshell Hurse less than a minute later to make it a new game.

But Audrey Grimm calmly finished off a low strike on a through ball from Abby Steffensmeier in the 16th minute, Steffensmeier lightly chipped a ball through the outstretched hands of Wayne keeper Isabella Nichols in the 25th minute to give Warsaw a 3-1 halftime cushion, and the Tigers never looked back.

“We came out a little flat tonight. We came out a little slower than we needed to. I don’t think we moved the ball fast enough at times,” said Hoover. “We were hitting the right people, but we weren’t doing it fast enough to ultimately get where we wanted to go with our possession. But it’s one of those we’re coming off a really, really big game, and Fort Wayne Wayne is a little bit different pace and they played a little bit different than our game with Northridge, just the style and everything like that. It took a little adjusting. We didn’t come out as good as I would’ve liked to in the first 10 minutes, but once we got kind of in the flow of things, it worked out OK.”

If you consider seven goals on 14 shots on goal just OK, that is.

Steffensmeier finished with a pair of goals and her assist to lead a Warsaw side that saw six different players make the scoring column Tuesday. Corissa Koontz converted a penalty kick opportunity in the 59th minute after Nichols tripped up Steffensmeier in the box, Rylee Burns scored a composed goal over a sliding Nichols in the 62nd minute, and Tes Berelsman volleyed in the game’s final score when Kierstin Parker served her up in the box, squeezing a ball between a pair of pinching Wayne defenders in the 65th minute.

Tes Berelsman makes a run for Warsaw.

“As we started to move the ball side to side and started to possess the ball a little bit more and be a little bit more patient, we started to wear them down a little bit. We’re very fortunate that we have a deep team, very fortunate that we have some skilled players that can hit the ball from side to side of the field and make the defense move as we move the ball,” said Hoover.

Warsaw advances to play Fort Wayne South Side in Thursday’s late semifinal, following a game between Huntington North and Homestead, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. The winners of Thursday’s games advance to Saturday’s championship at 7 p.m.

“I’m not terribly worried about South Side. Not that I don’t respect them — it’s more that I want us to play the way we play,” explained Hoover. “Whether that’s playing against a Homestead or Southside or Huntington North, I want us to play the way that we should play and then let the results take care of themselves.”

Posted In: Girl's Sports > Soccer