Boys soccer: Crown Point uses big second half to beat LC, advances to regional final
By Michael Osipoff firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-2485 October 17, 2013 11:10PM
Crown Point's Carmelo Morales celebrates after scoring making the score 3-1, Crown Point at Merrillville High School on Thursday, October 17, 2013. | Jim Karczewski\Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 19, 2013 6:40AM
MERRILLVILLE — Lake Central threw a scare into Crown Point in Thursday night’s Class 2A Merrillville boys soccer regional semifinal.
But the undefeated Bulldogs pulled away for a closer-than-the-score-indicates 5-1 win against the Indians, scoring four second-half goals, including three in less than 3½ minutes.
Crown Point (17-0-1) advances to Saturday’s 11 a.m. final against Chesterton (16-2-1), which rode a fast start to a 4-1 win against Munster in Thursday’s first semifinal.
“Lake Central came out with a great gameplan,” said Crown Point coach Mike Bazin, whose team edged Chesterton 1-0 on Sept. 11. “They played us phenomenally well in the first half. And hats off to their keeper (Jorge Trujillo) — this entire season, we knew he was going to be a great keeper once we heard he was playing over the summer.
“They have a lot of young guys that will lay it on the line for (LC coach) Jereme (Rainwater), and they took us out of our element. You could tell it was a tale of two halves. At halftime, we just talked about getting all those jitters out, and trusting the game we’ve taught them how to play, and you could see a difference. … When you’re that dynamic, it will eventually come.”
And the goals did indeed come for the Bulldogs, who applied intense pressure from the moment the second half began. They snapped a 1-1 tie with 25 minutes left when Erik Eksten headed home Brad Kurtz’s corner kick. Crown Point then added three goals in rapid succession — Carmelo Morales scored his second of the game with just inside 14 minutes left, Bay Kurtz headed in a cross from Tod Oram less than three minutes later, and Brad Kurtz scored from distance a little more than a half-minute later.
“We talked all week about keeping our shape defensively, and not getting strung out into the attack, and making sure we had numbers behind the ball, and the kids did a fantastic job,” said Rainwater, whose roster is loaded with freshmen, including four who started on Thursday, and sophomores. “You can hold players like they have down because you play good soccer, but eventually their athleticism caught up to us — they’re fast, strong, great in the air.
“At one point, we had six U-15 players on the field, and it’s tough to compete against 18-year-old kids.”
In Thursday’s first semifinal, Chesterton created opportunities almost from the outset, and capitalized a little more than nine minutes into the game on Jared O’Dell’s blast. Less than a minute later, Trent Weller came clear to give the Trojans a 2-0 lead.
“I liked our intensity,” Chesterton coach James Sensibaugh said. “I liked how we came out and we possessed really well, moved the ball, kept it on the ground. But at the same time, we did take advantage of being direct when we had to.”
Chesterton made it 3-0 with 18-plus minutes left in the first half on a nifty free kick. With the ball about 25 yards from goal, Billy Biehl slotted the direct kick inside the right post, after stepovers by two Trojans players.
“We played a really good team today,” Munster coach Jim Prasopoulos said. “We dug ourselves a hole right away, and you just cannot do that in the postseason.
“That really gave them the confidence, and because we’re a little bit younger, it really took some of our confidence away when that happened. I give all the credit to Chesterton for fighting hard. … We’re walking away with our heads held up high.”
Peter Panos scored Munster’s lone goal eight-plus minutes into the second half, putting away a loose ball after a throw-in to draw the Mustangs (10-8-1) to 3-1. But the Trojans answered less than four minutes later, as John Ward scored off a feed from O’Dell.
“I thought we got a little sloppy the first part of the second half,” Sensibaugh said. “That was Munster’s surge to see if they could come back into the game, and once we withstood that and got the fourth, that was pretty much it.”