SOUTH BEND — Aleah Ferngren plays both soccer and basketball for Valparaiso.
The point guard/striker said her play in one has improved her play in the other and vice versa.
“In basketball you have to be a playmaker,” Ferngren said. “I think that’s where it comes from. It’s like a pass and a cut in basketball, a give and go in soccer. It’s just finishing. If you’re open you take the shot.”
It showed Saturday at School Field, where the Vikings dominated in a 4-1 win over Northridge in the Class 3A regional semifinal. Ferngren scored two goals in the match.
“It seems like they’re peaking. They really feel good about the way they’re playing,” coach Rob Cespedes said. “They’re really uniting as a team.”
Ferngren said her older sister, Lexi, was an example. Lexi was also a two-sport athlete who graduated in 2016.
“Lexi, she’s the same way. That’s how I am,” Ferngren said. “If I come to the soccer field, I know who I could pass to and I can see different passes and creations to make. It’s not all about playing the feet. It’s also about playing to spaces. You’ve got to know your speed and everything. A lot of factors play into it.”
The Vikings notched two first-half goals. The first was on an Ferngren breakaway at 14:02.
“I told (Olivia Shaw) to just play it over and pass it to me. I had to control it so I used my head,” Ferngren said. “Olivia was yelling at me from behind to just go, so I was just going to the goal. I knew if I shot it low enough and hard enough, it would go.”
Janci Courtaney put a header into the nylon in the 21st minute. Shaw added a long goal in the second half and Fergren scored her second in the 58th minute.
“The thing with (Ferngren) is her free style of play. She goes out there and it’s not mechanical and she just loves creativity,” Cespedes said. “Basketball and soccer are very comparative. That basketball aspect of things and that creativity, what she does with the ball, is exactly what she is.”
Emma Oxenrider scored in the final seconds for Northridge.
Valparaiso (19-2) advanced to the regional final against two-time defending state champion Penn on Saturday night. Ferngren said the team is assured of its abilities.
“Especially coming into the regional championship match, (playing with confidence) is super important,” Cespedes said. “We’ve talked about little things that we need to weak and they’ve been receptive to those things, as well. I believe that you’re going to see it in this next match, they’re going to take it to another level.”