West Lafayette and Central Catholic confirmed their dates for the Class A West Lafayette Sectional semifinals Tuesday night with comfortable opening-round victories at the Salisbury Athletic Complex.
No. 14 Central Catholic used two goals within 43 seconds near the eight-minute mark to pull away from Rossville, 6-1. Sixth-ranked West Lafayette poured in six goals in the first 40 minutes to cruise past Benton Central, 9-0, in the nightcap.
The Knights and the Red Devils will play the second semifinal match Thursday at 7 p.m. West Lafayette won the previous meeting between the schools this season, 4-0, in the Hoosier Conference tournament final.
Northwestern will battle Delphi, a 1-0 winner against Faith Christian on Monday, in the opener at 5 p.m.
Probably the biggest challenges both teams faced Tuesday was keeping their minds off each other.
“It was a little difficult, but our main focus was to take care of business in this game so we could face West Side in the second game,” said Kelsey Harding, who scored three of Central Catholic’s six goals. “We’re really excited about the next game.”
Maya Alexander, who scored West Lafayette’s first two goals, said while she wasn’t thinking of Central Catholic per se, she knew the Red Devils had to put their best foot forward starting with Tuesday’s game.
“Obviously, before the game, we knew Central Catholic would be our next opponent,” Alexander said. “I think the idea going in was playing this game, but thinking ahead, so we want to play as high of a level as we could regardless of the opponent.”
Central Catholic (10-6) jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Lauren Pannell at the 26:22 mark and Harding with 19:19 left in the first half.
Rossville, though, cut the lead in half when junior Brooke Hughes drilled a direct kick from about 25 yards into the top of the goal over the outstretched arms of Central Catholic goalie Stephanie Siemers with 11:02 left before halftime.
For several minutes, Rossville played toe to toe with the Knights, until Central Catholic broke through with Harding’s second goal at the 8:40 mark, followed by Allison Martin’s goal with 7:57 left.
That gave Central Catholic a 4-1 halftime lead, and the Hornets could not threaten again.
“We tried not to think about West Lafayette, because we knew we had to get through this game first,” said Martin, who scored two goals. “I think (Rossville’s) goal just fired us up more and made us want to play harder. It was important for us to keep up our intensity.”
Rossville coach Rodger DeLosh said he believes the future is bright for his team, which played 11 sophomores and will only lose two seniors.
In the second game, Alexander and Kali Krockover each scored two goals while Shannon Berry and Freyda Mannering added a goal and an assist each to help West Side build a 6-0 first-half advantage.
“We really got into the groove tonight,” said Erin Brophy, who had a goal and an assist. “I’m just starting to play forward, but I’m learning a lot. Though the entire season, we’ve just been thinking about one game at a time, so we just wanted to get through this one and think about Central Catholic later. They are a good team, and we’re looking forward to playing them again.”
Benton Central coach Mike Kerkhoff said while his team was outmanned by West Lafayette, he was encouraged by his team’s overall work ethic and the play of his younger players.