PORTAGE | A few point-blank misses in the first half strengthened Chesterton senior Ashton Balch's resolve.
Balch scored twice over the final 13 minutes of the game, and the state 13th-ranked Trojans edged host Portage 2-0 in the sectional semifinals Thursday night.
Michigan City clinched its third championship appearance with a 3-0 win over Westville. The Trojans (17-1-1) and Wolves (7-7) will meet at 10 a.m. Saturday for the title.
Balch was well aware of her first-half futility against the Indians (7-11-2).
"I was just sick of getting it to the goal and missing," said Balch, who has 16 goals on the season. "In the first half, I hit it right at the goalie at least four times. I had a huge space, and I couldn't get it in.
"I was hungrier to score. When I found the opening, I wanted to kick."
Balch maneuvered free of the Portage defense and launched a shot just outside the 18-yard line which found the far right corner of the net at 67:13.
She found another opening a little further away, blasting a 30-yard shot over a leaping Portage goalie Tori Bliss at 71:33.
"Your adrenaline is pumping," Balch said, "and I knew it wasn't impossible to score."
Bliss kept the Indians in the contest with six saves, many on point-blank attempts.
"She was unbelievable," Portage coach Amanda Isakson said of her senior keeper. "She gained an extra boost of confidence."
Chesterton first-year coach David Galloway had confidence his team could score, but he wanted them to alter things in the second half.
"We had several shots inside the 6 (yard line), literally right at the goalie," said Galloway, whose team also defeated Portage 2-0 on Sept. 23. "At halftime, we talked about moving out a little bit and changing our shots."
Kelsey Pawloski scored a pair of first-half goals for the Wolves (7-8). Westville goalie Brianna Persin made 17 saves.