Not too long ago, North’s soccer team was most focused on keeping opponents scoreless.
North didn’t avoid its shutout streak and wasn’t afraid of jinxing it, and it got to nine games before Campus scored on North in a regional final last week.
There isn’t much concern for style points anymore. North (15-3) has advanced to the Class 6A quarterfinals for the third straight season, and a semifinal berth is on the line at Manhattan on Tuesday night.
North has won 10 straight and has outscored opponents 40-1 during the winning streak.
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“I tell the boys this time of year, it’s all about a result at this point,” North coach Curt Wullschleger said. “We win 10-9, cool. As long as we win and we move on.”
North’s record was 5-3 after a 2-1 loss to Bishop Carroll on Sept. 21. North wasn’t scored upon again for more than a month and hasn’t experienced another loss.
The players, many of whom were part of quarterfinal teams of the past two years, rallied around the scoreless streak, which began against Liberal two days after the loss to Carroll. North scored at least two goals in every shutout, and four times scored four or more goals.
The streak became a motivator as North avenged an earlier loss to Kapaun and stayed sharp even against over-matched opponents.
“We absolutely talked about it,” Wullschleger said. “We always say the most important number on the scoreboard is zero, because if they don’t score we don’t lose. We had nine in a row, and that was the longest streak like that I’ve ever been a part of, coaching or playing, at any level.
“It was pretty special to watch it happen.”
Some of North’s top players are A’llec Medina, who leads the team with 11 goals, and Alejandro Orona, a center defender who is the best playmaker and leader with seven assists. Jesus Aguilar and Alfonso Ceballos are versatile midfielders with final-eight experience.
The secret to North’s month-long defensive excellence may be its depth. Wullschleger has mixed lineups and found that just about any combination works – and that all of them are tough to score against.
“You can’t just key in on one of our guys and shut him down,” Wullschleger said. “If you’re devoting that much time and effort to one of our players, cool, the other 10 are going to beat you.
“I write down my starting lineup on my little pad every game and the first maybe 14 games of the season, there was always one or two little tweaks and changes. So when I bring my second line of forwards in, at some point during the season they’ve been starters. I don’t feel like we have a dropoff.”