For the Daily Journal

Center Grove’s boys soccer team overcame yet another slow start, scoring three goals in the second half and pulling away for a 4-1 win against visiting Columbus North on Tuesday.

The Trojans, ranked 12th in the latest Class 3A poll, have struggled all season putting together an all-around performance in the first 40 minutes, and Tuesday’s game was no exception. But that all changed after the half as Center Grove went to work and put the visiting Bull Dogs away.

“We have not been a first-half team this year. It’s something that we’ve been working on. The intensity just hasn’t been there,” Center Grove coach Jameson McLaughlin said. “They did much better tonight, honestly. They started out good and then there was a lull for about 20 minutes, then they finished. They played really well.”

Center Grove (6-2) took only three shots on goal in the first half, with the first two getting turned away by North keeper Noah Kestler. But the third, by Jackson Neal, ended up in the net after the junior found himself open in the box and finished the play.

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The Trojans dominated the second half right from the start and scored three minutes into the period when Luke Boha headed in a crossing pass from Andrew Souter to put his team ahead 2-0.

The two goals were more than enough but Center Grove played add-on anyway, scoring in the 54th minute on a goal by John Nystrom — with an assist to Neal — to push the lead to 3-0. The Trojans added another goal two minutes before the final horn on a breakaway by Boha, his second goal of the game.

“We have struggled to finish this year, I mean mightily,” McLaughlin said. “Yesterday we did two and a half hours of nothing but shooting the ball. No goalkeeper, just watching that ball go into the net, and eventually you could see it started to pay off.”

Center Grove returns to action Thursday when it heads to No. 3 North Central in a matchup of two ranked teams.