Northview stands 80 minutes shy of planning a trip to Columbus to take part in the Division I boys state soccer championship.
But first thing first - the Wildcats must travel to Solon today to take on Mentor in a state semifinal.
Northview coach Ryan Creech expects the Wildcats - who knocked off Medina 1-0 in a regional championship game on Saturday - to be ready to compete for a spot in the title game scheduled Friday at Columbus Crew Stadium.
"We want to take one step at a time," Creech said. "We want our boys to stay in the now. We don't want them looking back and not looking forward."
The Wildcats enter their first state semifinal game owning a 20-3 record and riding plenty of momentum and confidence.
Creech is not expecting the Wildcats to take Mentor lightly, despite facing an opponent that advanced to the state semifinals with a 14-5-2 record.
"If they weren't ready to play they wouldn't have a heartbeat," he said.
The Wildcats have leaned on goalie Tyler Puhl and a defensive-minded outfit that has relied on solid play from interior defenders, sophomore Josh Watkins, junior Justin Marquardt and senior Ben Pietrykowski. Their contributions have helped set the tempo for Northview's best run in the playoffs in team history.
Kyle Sharfenberg (20 goals) and Danny Okoroafo (12 goals) lead Northview's scoring attack.
The bottom line heading into the state semifinal contest with Mentor is not complicated for the Wildcats, according to Creech.
"I think the keys are the same from here on out," he said. "The team that wants it the most will come out ahead. Our energy has to be better than theirs early in the match."
Puhl, who has been solid throughout the Wildcats' tournament run, also has said the key to their success has remained the same. Stay focused and "to take it one game at a time."
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