Boys soccer: Valpo advances to semistate after another shootout win
By Tommy Williams Post-Tribune correspondent October 13, 2012 11:42PM
Lake Central's Joshua Crague (right) fights for the ball with Valparaiso's Yamen Atassi during the Merrillville boys soccer regional final held at Merrillville High School on Saturday October 13, 2012. | Charles Mitchell~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 15, 2012 6:50AM
MERRILLVILLE — In its successful regular-season run, Valparaiso did not have one game that was decided by a shootout.
It would be hard to convince the Vikings’ two Merrillville Regional opponents of that notion.
“We practice (penalty kicks), every day, we anticipate that it will eventually happen,” said Valparaiso coach Danny Jeftich.
“I’ve been in this game for over 20 years and I have seen it all and we have to be ready.”
That preparation, as well as a goalie with a short memory, paved the way for Valparaiso to pick up its second straight penalty-kick win in the regional, defeating Lake Central 4-1 in the shootout after a 1-1 tie in regulation.
The win gives the Vikings their fifth regional title — first since 2005 — and punches their ticket to the Warsaw Semistate next Saturday.
Just like Valparaiso’s win over Munster on Thursday, it was goalie Ethen Lehnen who came up big in the shootout session, stopping three consecutive LC attempts while Chase Holford, Luke Kovar, Cory Fox and Issac Withrow had goals for the Vikings.
“This is awesome; this is better than anything I’ve experienced, these last two regional games,” Lehnen said.
It almost turned into the opposite for Lehnen. Brendan Sutherland scored at the 15:26 mark of the second half to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead.
But with 2:07 left in the game, Lehnen could not stop a David Reed header from in front of the net to tie the game and send it into overtime.
“They had about five corner kicks at that time and when they put the ball in I said ‘son of a gun.’” Lehnen said. “But you have to stay strong and you have to do what you have to do.”
It was the second time Lake Central (9-13) has lost to Valparaiso and both times it ended in heartbreak.
The 1-0 loss during the regular season featured a Lake Central shot that hit the post as time expired.
“There were a lot of people who doubted where we were at,” Lake Central coach Jereme Rainwater said.
“We have a young team that was building to the postseason and they did it. They took a team that is 18-2 into the shootout. We never quit.”