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North boys soccer finishing strong

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By Brad Stephens

 

Chad Niedert’s first year coaching North Oldham varsity boys soccer is producing some big-time results.

The Mustangs (14-3-1) earned District 29’s No. 1 seed Oct. 1 with a 4-1 home win over rival Oldham County.

That win ensured North a spot in Wednesday’s district title game and, more importantly, a spot in the Region 8 tournament, which begins later this month.

“We think we can get far into regionals, and hopefully into state,” goalkeeper Jake Johnson said.

The Mustangs, who haven’t lost since Sept. 10, have achieved several quality wins over the last month. North has recorded wins over South Oldham, Oldham and Eastern and drawn against Male, which sports a 13-4-2 record in a tough Region 7.

“I think we’ve started to want it more,” Niedert said. “We started to finally realize that nothing’s going to be given to us.”

The Mustangs are getting it done by outscoring opponents 61-19 on the year.

Hunter Wafford and David Cottrell lead the North attack with 10 goals each this season. Sean Williams-Harris has found the back of the net seven times, while Colin Burke, Quinn Foster and Mason Smith have all scored five times.

Defensively the Mustangs have been stout, not allowing an opponent to score more than two goals since a 3-2 loss to Ballard on Aug. 29.

North’s win over Oldham on Oct. 1 was an example of the scoring depth the Mustangs feature. Smith led the way with two goals and assisted on another. Wafford and Jad Vicich also tallied scores.

The win had huge district implications. Had the Colonels won, they’d have clinched the district’s No. 1 seed. Instead, they’ll face South Oldham Monday, with the loser seeing its season come to an end.

“I think we had something to play for, and I think OC had something to lose,” Niedert said. “I think that playing with something to lose, it’s hard to play with that mentality, especially coming into an away game.

“I think we obviously wanted that game more than they did. It wasn’t the strongest showing from us as a team, but it was probably one of our highest work rates. We just seemed to want it more than they did over the entire 80 minutes.”

North needs only to record three more wins to set a new program record for wins in a season. The 2004 Mustangs’ 16 wins are the current high mark.

It’s a significant improvement for a North team that went just 5-12 last season, failing to make the Region 8 tournament. Niedert, who previously coached the Mustangs’ JV squads, has been a big difference, midfielder Nick Elliott said.

“He’s changed things a lot around here,” Elliott said. “There’s a lot more commitment to the team, definitely.”

Johnson said Niedert’s inspirational talks to the Mustang team, especially at halftimes of games, have been a big boost.

“He’s been really positive,” Johnson said.

Should North beat either Oldham or South Wednesday, they’ll be in position to make a good run in the Region 8 tournament. Collins (11-2-2) appears to be the only legitimate threat to the District 29 teams.

And should the Mustangs make it through regionals, they’ll be out to make an impact at the state level.

“We’re peaking at the right time,” Niedert said. “Our win against OC and our tie against Male, if we continue that, we’ll be a hard team to compete against.”