Northlake Christian’s defense had only allowed three goals this season going into Monday’s nondistrict match against St. Paul’s. The Wolves defense had only allowed two.
It figured that something eventually would give on offense when the teams met. But in the end, it didn’t.
Northlake Christian and St. Paul’s played to a 1-1 tie at Northlake Christian in Covington.
Monday’s game was another tough battle between two of the metro area’s premier soccer programs. St. Paul’s is ranked first in Division I and is the defending state champion. Northlake Christian is ranked in the top 10 in Division IV and reached the Division III title game last season.
The squads played like contenders again but couldn’t find enough offense to break the tie.
“They’re always a good team to play,” Northlake Christian senior defender Richard Humphrey said. “The mindset changed because we lost last year 1-0. We lost a lot of seniors and a lot of talent, but everyone out here is just stepping it up each game.”
Both teams played strong defense. The first 20 minutes of the match were quiet, with the Wolves attempting only three shots and the Wolverines trying only one.
But in the 25th minute, momentum swung to Northlake Christian (3-1-4) when a penalty kick was awarded after a St. Paul’s hand ball. Nate Pearl took advantage by drilling a clean shot to the left side of the St. Paul’s net. The score gave the Wolverines a 1-0 lead.
St. Paul’s (9-0-2) had a great chance to tie the score in the 39th minute when it had a penalty kick. Michael Boudreaux’s ball from 25 yards out was stopped by Northlake Christian goalie Zack Odenwald, however, and the 1-0 lead carried through halftime.
St. Paul’s evened the score at 1-1 in the 47th minute when Austin Groeneveld rolled a shot from the right sideline into the left corner of the net.
“The goal was about trying to find a rhythm,” Groeneveld said. “The main thing that was getting into our heads was giving up the penalty to a team that was (clearing the ball) on a lot of plays. In games like that, you have to keep your head. The goal let us know we would stay in the game.”
St. Paul’s coach Sean Moser was pleased with the way his team played in the first 10 minutes, though it couldn’t score early.
“We were getting behind them, but the keeper made three or four saves,” Moser said. “We made a bad decision on one or two where we should have passed and instead we took a shot…But we should have a goal, and I think we would have settled in the game. But things became 50-50 after that, though I thought we looked good in the first 20-25 minutes of the second half, too.”
NCS coach Nick Chetta said his team played with a purpose against St. Paul’s.
“St. Paul’s is the class of our area, and any time you get an opportunity, you want to give your best,” he said. “Last year, we wound up a little short. We didn’t get the win today. The tie is nice, and getting this result against St. Paul’s is big for us. But we’re not done. We’ll get better.”