Due to a pair of losses earlier in the season, Woodridge girls soccer's role in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division race has been reduced to that of spoiler.
Bulldogs coach Jason Allenspach knew, however, that didn't mean his team would take its foot off the pedal vs. PTC foes.
"We always seem to play with a level of intensity in PTC games," Allenspach said. "Our girls knew what was at stake for us today and that wasn't the PTC title."
Perhaps so, but given the effort of the Bulldogs Oct. 4, it was hard to tell they were out of the title hunt.
Woodridge controlled long portions of the game vs Norton, handing the Panthers their first PTC loss with a 1-0 win at Lahoski Field.
Woodridge improved to 8-3, 4-2 in the Metro Division. Norton, which had earned a draw with league-leading Cloverleaf earlier, dropped to 7-2-1, 3-1-1 in the division.
Allenspach noted the win all but handed the Metro Division title to Cloverleaf. He also noted he hopes the result boosts the Bulldogs' fortunes in during the Division II Medina district seed meeting, which will take place Oct. 9.
"I hope it helps us a lot," Allenspach said. "I hope we can get [Norton's] support, as I would have supported them if they had won. I think we should be a top five seed."
Woodridge took command of the game early, as the Bulldogs' athleticism was able to pin the Panthers in their own end.
Norton's defense blocked at least 10 shots in the first half alone, while goaltender Bryana Housley recorded four saves and cut out numerous crosses.
While the Bulldogs' controlled the flow of the game, a common issue returned for Woodridge, as they were unable to score early despite creating numerous chances.
In the 33rd minute, the breakthrough came in beautiful fashion for Woodridge.
Senior forward Gracey Radwany, who made life miserable for the Norton defenders all night, stole the ball and into the Panthers' penalty box. Radwany drew Housely off her line and slid a square ball to senior midfielder Cassie Whited.
Whited put an angled shot into the corner of the net, giving Woodridge the 1-0 lead.
Up 1-0 at halftime, Woodridge saw Norton come out and take control of the match in the second half, garnering most of the possession.
Allenspach admitted he didn't know why the momentum swung in Norton's favor after the half.
"We knew they would try to come out strong, but I thought we could handle it," Allenspach said. "We've always been a second-half team, so it was a bit surprising."
The good news for Woodridge was the Norton's possession advantage did not translate into many good scoring opportunities. While Woodridge goaltender Mary Bates made five saves to preserve the shutout, she was rarely tested in dangerous areas.
The Bulldogs were set to close out their Metro Division schedule Oct. 6 at home vs. Springfield, but results were not available at press time.
Woodridge will close out the regular season by hosting Firestone Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. before travelling to defending state champion Archbishop Hoban Oct. 12 at 7 p.m.