Lady Vikings season ends with loss to McIntosh
by Chris Goltermann
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
Another Class AAAAA state girls soccer champion will be crowned this year out of Area 4-AAAAA.
It just won’t be Northgate this time around.
A year after basking in rain showers after winning the program’s first state title, the Lady Vikings were toppled by McIntosh amidst a monsoon in mid-May at Henry Seldon Field, falling 4-0 in a Class AAAAA semifinal where the Lady Chiefs seemed to dictate the play from start to finish.
The rain equally dominated Wednesday’s highly-anticipated rematch of last year’s Final Four matchup played at McIntosh.
The opening kickoff was delayed 25 minutes due to lightning in the area with an on-again, off-again series of rain showers that at first produced a slick field with a constant drizzle.
Later on, however, downpours produced puddles that slowed the advancement of soccer balls to a crawl’s pace as Northgate saw it’s chances to repeat as state champions slip away.
McIntosh — which advanced to face Fayette rival Starr’s Mill on Friday — took control by halftime scoring twice and adding another in the first 15 minutes of the second and leaving Northgate trying to swim upstream to try and get back in the game.
Four Lady Chiefs tallied goals with a pair coming on opposite ends of halftime in a game that didn’t match the intensity of a 1-0 McIntosh win during the regular season or Northgate’s 2-1 overtime victory a year ago in the 2013 state semifinals.
It’s the second consecutive year two teams from Area 4-AAAAA will play in the GHSA finals. Last year’s game pitted the Lady Vikings against Whitewater.
Northgate closed its 2014 season with an 18-4 season, with half of its losses coming against McIntosh.
The Lady Chiefs improved to 18-2, having lost its first meeting with fellow state-finalist Starr’s Mill during the regular season.
“They're a good squad,” said Northgate head soccer coach Bryan Hicks of McIntosh before congratulating coaches Marcia Clark and John Briglevich and giving them the game ball. “But I'm proud of my girls to be able to get back to the Final Four. They had that target on their backs all year. And they made it back to the Final Four. I told them to have a chance to play for a state championship is something that some players never get to experience. they should be proud of that.”
McIntosh broke through for a 1-0 just after the midway point of the opening half on Veronica Cappas’ point-blank shot off a feed from the left side by junior teammate Martha Trimbach.
But the visitors seemed to take command for good on a successful penalty shot from junior Taylor Snell with just 1:30 left in the first half on a hard shot into the bottom-right corner.
Both goals were set off by balls that ricocheted in the wrong direction off Lady Viking defenders, the first sending Trimbach in for a 2-on-1 in the 21st minute and the latter resulting in a takedown of a Lady Chiefs player as she was tripped up while breaking in alone on goal.
Trimbach nearly had given McIntosh a two-goal lead off a rebound that was pushed wide of an open net in the 26th minute.
All too often, however, Northgate keeper Mattea Lewis was at the mercy of McIntosh shooters, who added a third goal on Jackie Gray’s break-in off a ball that deflected off teammate Rachel Green into open space in the 54th minute.
Moments earlier, Lewis had made one of a dozen saves while trying to keep her team in the game behind a Northgate defense that was constantly challenged. Senior teammate Taylor Hendrix equally cleared a ball from the goal crease off a corner kick with McIntosh surging early in the second half.
To their credit, the Lady Chiefs’ defense denied Northgate even the slightest chance to test injured goalkeeper Hannah Graham, who used her off-foot to punt the few balls she touched out of the zone. The Lady Vikings managed just two shots on goal — neither of which came from inside the box — while also denied a single corner-kick opportunity.
“You could tell they were playing hard for their injured keeper,” Hicks said of McIntosh while not knowing a result yet from a semifinal between Starr’s Mill and Pope. “I can bet you the state champion is coming this region again.”