MUNSTER | Talk about momentum swings.
Exhibit A is the Munster boys soccer team winning its state-record 11th consecutive sectional championship Saturday, outlasting Clark 4-1 in a shootout.
"We ran into a difficult part of our schedule at the end of the year and dropped three straight games -- Brownsburg, Valpo, Andrean -- and we're now rallying back," Mustangs coach Jim Prasopoulos said.
"Really, it's just getting refocused and regroup as good teams do. We stood our ground and persevered against Clark. Their kids can play."
Saturday's match ended in a 1-1 deadlock and Munster (13-4-1) then prevailed on penalty kicks by Evan Shmagrannoff, Demetri Georgalas, Nick Cossyleon and the clincher by Alex Sikora.
Georgalas assisted on Drake Bowers' goal in regulation. For the Pioneers (13-3-2), Miguel Ramirez scored in regulation and Daniel Curiel had the lone tally in the dramatic shootout.
"We're all pretty much the same, talent-wise, pretty well-rounded as a team," Bowers said.
"While our season had its ups and downs, we knew the sectionals were a new start and we were able to pull it all together," Sikora said of wins over E.C. Central, Morton and Clark.
"We knew that in the past 10 years, (former Munster teams) had done their job and we had to carry on."
Munster advances to Thursday's Merrillville Regional, where it will meet Valparaiso.
"I know everybody thumbs their nose up at Hammond schools but our kids finally got it in their heads that they can compete against the biggest and best schools," Clark coach Jorge Torres said.
"All three of our losses have been shootouts. We've competed and pushed everybody to their limits."