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A slight crack appeared in the Northview girls soccer team's mastery of the Northern Lakes League with a tie against Sylvania rival Southview last night.
It took a goal by junior forward Taylor Delaney with 4:06 left for the Wildcats to pull out a 2-2 stalemate with the Cougars, preventing a colossal upset. Northview (13-1-2) came into the game having lost only one Northern Lakes League game since 1999.
Yet Delaney scored two goals and the Wildcats, who are ranked eighth in the Division I state coaches poll, captured their ninth straight NLL title with a 6-0-1 mark. Southview (9-5-2) clinched second place with a 5-1-1 record.
"A tie is a tie and this team is used to winning," Northview coach Rick Burgin said. "Give credit to Southview. They came after us. They have amazing heart."
Southview sophomore Katie Murphy scored in the first half and junior Emily Beddoes put the Cougars ahead late in the second half.
"My girls left everything on the field. They played their hearts out," Southview coach Abbey Mock said. "We hate to lose that late. But in retrospect they are ranked No. 8 in the state and we now know we can come out and compete with the No. 8th-ranked team in the state. It shows a lot about these girls. We've peaked at the right moment."
It was only the third tie in league play for the Wildcats in the last five seasons. Northview, which outscored league foes 31-4, had won 11 straight.
"Teams come out and give us their best," Burgin said. "They came after us because of who we are. They are geared up for us. So we [can't] be flat. That's asking a lot. But that is the standard they've set."
The temperature at game time was just 48 degrees at Timberstone Junior High with a light drizzle, and playing conditions were unpleasant with a slick field and slippery ball.
Delaney, who tallied her eighth and ninth goals, got things started when she scored 5:23 into the contest. Cougar goalie Kelsey Schmidt came out to play the ball and Delaney scored into an empty net. It was Northview's first shot of the game and made it 1-0.
About four minutes later, junior Paige Maroney worked her way around two defenders and her shot barley missed to the right of the net. Ten minutes later, Maroney made another nifty move to get past a Cougar defender but Schmidt met her and the two collided, injuring Maroney.
Maroney, the team's leader in assists (14) and goals (21), had to be carried off the field.
Delaney nearly scored another goal on a header off of a corner kick, but the deflection went just above the crossbar.
"She is always very calm with the ball and very tactically intelligent. She knows where to be at the right times," Burgin said.
With just 21.5 seconds left in the half, Southview broke though with a goal during a scramble out in front of Northview goalie Kaitlyn Sarmento. Murphy floated a short kick into the right upper corner of the net to tie at 1.
The Wildcats applied constant pressure in the second half, outshooting Southview 10-3. But Southview went ahead on a great line drive pass from Brooke Nye up to Beddoes who headed it by backup goalie Kelsey McCoy. The go-ahead marker came with 16:55 left in the match and it was Southview's first shot on net during the second half.
Northview's Stephanie Rentschler nearly scored twice within 30 seconds with 12 minutes left. Delaney finally broke through for Northview with 4:06 left. Delaney collected a loose ball and scored on a rebound to tie it at 2.
"Whenever everyone else's mind is running crazy, she's calm," Burgin said. "The pressure we put on them was intense. They played amazing tonight."
The rivals could meet again if both reach the district semifinals.
"We have another chance at them," Mock said. "When we get that second chance that is when it counts more. October is the time to prove it and right now these girls are playing the best soccer they've ever played."
Contact Mark Monroe at: email@example.com or 419-724-6354.