VALPARAISO | After several minutes of frustrating near-misses, Chesterton senior forward Austin Haire's goal was a welcome sight.
Haire's 15th goal of the season broke a scoreless tie in the second half and helped the Trojans edge Kankakee Valley 2-0 in the Valparaiso Regional semifinal opener Wednesday night.
Ricardo Silva scored twice as the defending champion Portage defeated Culver Academies 3-1 in the nightcap. The Indians (14-4-1) meet the Trojans (12-6-1) for the title at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Over the first 60 minutes, Chesterton continued to come up just short on several quality chances, whether it was due to quality defensive plays or slightly-errant shots.
"It was getting a little frustrating," Chesterton coach Jamie Sensibaugh said. "We just had to remain disciplined, and it would be a matter of time."
Haire broke free just outside the box, settled inside the 18-yard line, drew out Kankakee Valley goalie Jacob Swartz and chipped a shot by Swartz at 61:02.
"It was really great to break through," said Haire, who missed a few earlier scoring chances. "I was just so happy. A huge weight was lifted off our shoulders.
"Everyone seemed to settle down after that."
Junior Ben Molnar also gained retribution for some earlier misses by making 2-0 at 73:30.
Kankakee Valley (12-7) missed a golden scoring opportunity at 76:20 when Evan Dahm's laser shot bounced off the crossbar and sailed wide.
Chesterton goalie Jacob Garmany secured his third straight postseason shutout with eight saves. Kankakee Valley's goalie tandem of Sam Cowsert and Swartz combined for 12 saves.
"I really thought it was going to happen," Kankakee Valley coach Duane Vander Woude said.
In the second game, Silva was moved from a defensive position to forward for the sectional. He's scored his first three goals this season in just three postseason matches.
"We were able to create a lot more pressure," Portage coach Todd Strom said.
The Eagles (8-8-2) cut the lead in half on a goal at 44:36.
Portage answered back off a corner kick at 51:30. Brendon Swindle crossed his shot to Christian Cherry, who headed a pass to Donovan Cole. Cole's header eluded Culver Academies goalie Tim Jeffirs for a 3-1 lead.
"Being up 2-0 is a very dangerous position, because one goal can change the momentum," Strom said. "That was a huge goal for us. We were able to settle down and play good defense."