Warriors earn title opportunity

Staff photo by Tom Graham

North Knox’s Connor Hartzburg (11) watches his shot gets past White River Valley keeper Elliott Fulford (1) for a goal in their Class A South Knox Sectional semifinal match Wednesday.

Todd Wolfe was in the right place at the right time to poach the first and last goals for North Knox on Wednesday, and the Warriors blanked White River Valley, 3-0, in the Class A South Knox Sectional semifinals.

The Warriors advance to Saturday’s 3 p.m. championship match, when they face a county foe in either South Knox or Rivet. The No. 8 Spartans and Patriots played the late game Wednesday and ended too late for today’s edition.

It was a strong result for North Knox (8-9-1) after it settled for a 2-2 draw with the Wolverines (6-10-1) in their regular-season meeting.

“I was glad we got the opportunity to play against them again, and they’re an improved team. (Coach) Matt (Settles) does a good job over there, and I expect them to continue to get better,” Warriors coach Robert Cullen said. “We played really well. We were down a few players due to illness and injury, so we had a few guys out of position, but they all stepped up and did what they were asked.”

Wolfe got the scoring going in the 13th minute. After a cross was sent into the box and several Wolverines attempted to clear it, the ball landed at Wolfe’s feet, and he slammed it into the net at the 27:55 mark.

WRV nearly tied it up four minutes later when a through ball got by the North Knox defense, and Jeffrey Oliver had a one-on-one with Warriors’ keeper Dennis Stalcup, who was up to the challenge. Stalcup’s save immediately led to a counter attack, and Conner Hartzburg finished off North Knox’s second score with 22:47 showing to make it 2-0.

Oliver had a second clear shot at a goal in the 23rd minute when he made some nice passing exchanges with teammate Jadon Rogers, but Oliver put too much power behind his open, close-range shot, and it sailed over the crossbar.

North Knox controlled possession and enjoyed a 7-3 corner kick advantage in the first half. It was a 2-0 margin at intermission.

“Our whole group in the back played well. Austin Greubel, Jayce Jimenez, Isaiah Mackey, Gage French and Josiah Mackey, the whole crew did a good job, and Dennis did a good job getting everyone where they needed to be,” Cullen said. “They bunkered in against us, kept everyone back, so it was difficult finding goals. But we figured out where we needed to get the ball, and we scored a few.”

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Hartzburg nearly opened the second-half scoring in the 49th minute after making some nice moves on the right side, but his shot was turned back on a kick save by keeper Elliott Fulford. The Warriors tallied two minutes later however, when Hartzburg crossed it in, and once again several fortuitous deflections put the ball at Wolfe’s feet, and he hammered it home again at the 29:57 mark to make it 3-0.

The score remained, though both teams had several opportunities late, including a North Knox chance in the 68th minute when Wolfe, Hartzburg and Cole Jones all had shots on goal, but Fulford or a Wolverines was there to block it.

Cullen is thrilled that his team has the chance to play for a sectional championship Saturday, but he knows it’s going to be a tough matchup.

“We’ll definitely be the underdog, but we’ll show up and try to be hard to play against,” he said. “I say that a lot, but we we want to force them to have to play their best in order to beat us. We’ll put our cleats on just like they do, and we’ll see what we can do against a quality team. And it’ll be a quality team, whether it’s Rivet or South Knox.”

Spartans advance by Arrows on PKs

SULLIVAN — Jordyn Derouin forced the overtime, Ellie Fausnaugh made some clutch saves, and Grayson Keller ultimately provided the game-winner in a 2-1 penalty kick shootout win for the South Knox girls over Sullivan in the Class A Sullivan Sectional Tuesday.

The Spartans (8-10) trailed, 1-0, in the second half when Derouin hooked it into the net on a corner kick in the 65th minute. The game remained knotted, 1-1, through regulation and two seven-minute overtime periods, which forced penalty kicks.

The Golden Arrows (6-10-1) made their first PK, and Derouin followed suit. In the second round, Sullivan and Reagan Nowaskie were both wide of the mark. Fausnaugh turned away the third attempt, and the Arrows’ keeper did likewise to Sydney Riker. After Fausnaugh stopped the next one, Keller was true to make the PK margin 2-1. Sullivan’s final attempt was wide, giving South Knox the win without using its final try.

Fausnaugh had six saves prior to the shootout, and Nowaskie stepped in for one.

The Spartans take on Washington Catholic in the semifinals at 5 p.m. today. No. 11 Rivet plays Bloomfield in the second contest at 7 p.m., and the championship is at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Patriots cruise in sectional opener

Charlie Niehaus racked up a hat trick, and Rivet’s boys made quick work of Mitchell for a 6-0 victory in their quarterfinal meeting at the Class A South Knox Sectional on Tuesday.

The Patriots (9-7-2) advanced to face eighth-ranked and unbeaten South Knox on Wednesday, but that match ended too late for today’s edition.

Niehaus added an assist to his goal total, while Cedric Schleiss provided a goal and two assists, Sabastien Hardin one goal and one assist, Owen Dobbs one goal, and Ryan Nguyen one assist. The margin was 4-0 at halftime, and keeper Aaron Wyatt finished with five saves.

“It was an easy win, as was expected. We moved the ball well, took care of business, and now we get ready for South Knox,” Patriots coach Thierry Schleiss said.

The championship at South Knox is at 3 p.m. Saturday.

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