ST. JOHN — It’s all starting to come together.
At least that’s how Lake Central junior AnnMarie Hemmerling feels about the Times No. 6 Indians.
“We’re really starting to act like a unit, you know, like a family,” Hemmerling said. “We’re learning each other’s abilities, learning to trust each other and know that our teammates will do what they need to do with the ball.”
Hemmerling tallied two goals for Lake Central, which routed No. 7 Highland 4-0 Saturday.
“I think that the girls’ confidence in growing and I look forward to seeing (Crown Point) again in sectionals,” L.C. coach Shawn Thomas said. “I think, with each training session and each game, you get through that South Bend (St. Joseph tournament last weekend), the confidence builds and now we’re starting to see it with a few games under our belt.”
Possession was key, both coaches said. The Indians controlled the ball for long periods, winning the shots-on-goal game 16-2.
“We’ve been working a lot on high-pressure defending, so we’re trying to keep the ball pinned,” Thomas said. “They were having a hard time breaking that and getting out of the defense once we had them locked in. The girls have been doing a good job, overall, of keeping their shape and keeping the ball locked in. That’s why they were creating the opportunities that they were.”
The Indians (5-2) jumped right out in front, scoring two goals in the first 2 1/2 minutes.
Adianna Naumoski found the nylon first, only 20 seconds into match, on a touch pass from Mackenzie Rainwater.
Hemmerling notched her first score almost exactly two minutes later on a breakaway, beating keeper Morgan Rinkema to the lower left.
Lauren Bulf added another goal in the 28th minute.
“Possession is key. When they’re first to the ball, they control the ball, they control the game,” Trojans coach Courtney Condes said. “If we could tighten up our first touches, possess the ball and distribute the ball, make it up a little bit, it might have been a different game.”
Highland (2-2) had a pair of chances in the first half, but Jen Sheehan’s shot from in the box was stopped by Rinkema and Rachel Russell’s free kick from 25 yards sailed high.
“I told them at halftime, ‘You’re not going to give up,’” Condes said. “Our goalie, and our defense, with injuries happening and you’re throwing people in there, everyone gave the effort and that’s all you could ask for.”
Highland sophomore defensive starter Brooke Durkin was helped off the pitch in the second half and didn’t return.
Hemmerling added her second goal in the 67th minute to cap the scoring. She and Naumoski played a flawless one-two right in front of the net.
“That ball was perfect. It couldn’t have been any better,” Hemmerling said. “I just had to make that run in and (Naumoski) knew what she needed to do. I just had to tap it in. It’s hard to mess that one up.”