PORTAGE | Don't get Will Fortenberry wrong, he respects the success Lake County has had recently in high school soccer.
"What's it been? (How many) titles in the last three years?" Fortenberry said while referring to Lake Central's single-class boys title in 2010 followed by Crown Point's 2A boys titles in 2012 and 2013.
"That's what a good feeder system will do; that's what a good soccer academy will do like the Chicago Fire Juniors in Crown Point," Fortenberry said. "That's what we're trying to establish here.
"When I played soccer at Portage High School, we looked forward to beating up on Crown Point. Now, the tables have turned."
Fortenberry, a 2007 PHS grad, has since returned to his alma mater as the assistant boys soccer coach and is the Portage Parks Youth Soccer League director.
At the urging of Fortenberry's former coach, AJ Monroe — who recently resigned from his second stint at head coach at PHS — Portage Parks started the Indoor Soccer Academy, a youth program that holds twice-a-week training sessions and Saturday games for ages 7-14 at Woodland Park.
Fortenberry is the director of the academy.
"When incoming freshman come to play at the high school, most will say they've played soccer their whole life," Fortenberry said, "but for the most part, they do not know how to properly pass the ball to the feet and much more."
"I don't want to take anything away from (volunteer youth league) coaches because most do the best that they can and they're doing it for the kids. But it takes knowledge of the game and a lot of time to properly teach the basics."
Assisting Fortenberry are fellow Indians alumni Ross Bailey and Christian Cherry, and Portage girls head coach Gina Swenson.
"It was essential to have Gina be a part of our training team to help get more girls involved in Portage soccer," said Fortenberry, who also teaches at the high school. "We have not had a girls JV program for two seasons."
The inaugural session of the Portage Indoor Soccer Academy started several weeks ago. The second session is due to start Jan. 6, and signups are currently underway.
Fortenberry hopes the next session will have greater girls turnout. He also wishes that more novice youth coaches would attend the free coaches clinics offered periodically throughout the year by Portage Parks.
"There are also lesson plans online with the Indiana Youth Soccer, (but) people do not use them," Fortenberry said.
In addition to his staff and former coach, Fortenberry credits Portage Parks Sports Coordinator Ralph Mundt for helping the academy get started and gain a foothold.
"(Mundt) has been a huge help administratively as well as with organizing dates, times ... paper work," Fortenberry said.
CROWN POINT | After last year's heartbreaking 5-4 overtime loss to Duneland Athletic Conference foe Lake Central in the Merrillville Regional, Crown Point coach Mike Bazin knew what kind of talent he had coming back for the next year.
After the agonizing winter and spring months came and went, the team was itching to get back out onto the pitch to try and compete for a state title, but then to many people's surprise, the Bulldogs would get a huge addition.
When the annual previews came out, everyone knew that C.P. would be dangerous because one name was missing, but then when the season started, No. 8 happened to be on the roster.
"Isn't that Bay Kurtz?" several onlookers asked.
When it was confirmed that it was him, the onlookers griped out loud saying "They have Carmelo Morales AND Kurtz now?! Well, there's another state title for Crown Point."
Much to their dismay, they wound up being right after Crown Point completed the prophecy by beating Class 2A No. 2 Avon 3-1 in overtime for its second state championship in three years.
One of the reasons C.P. went to the state title game was because of senior forward Morales' dramatic goal in the waning minutes of the Warsaw semistate final win over Fort Wayne Canterbury.
Kurtz scored the other goal in that game and added one in the state final, as their stellar play in the postseason and throughout the regular season is why the two of them are the 2013 Times Co-Players of the Year.
Kurtz, who finished with team-highs of 19 goals and 14 assists, said that the two most important pros to coming back were being able to play with his younger brother Brad and because he thought this team was poised to make a deep postseason run.
"We've always talked about playing together and because this team had some great potential, I thought it'd be fun to come back," said Kurtz, who was also the 2011 Times Player of the Year.
Part of that potential was in Morales, who has won many different awards, as he scored 20 goals last year.
Morales knew he'd be double and triple-teamed because of the breakout junior year, but it was something he and the team knew was coming because everyone was going to give the Bulldogs their best effort.
"It all started in the offseason because everyone was gunning for us," said Morales, who added 18 goals and 10 assists. "We had a really determined group of guys and these were the most competitive practices I've ever had."
With the potential also comes tons of pressure, as the loss to Lake Central in 2012 and the state title in 2011 had many of the same players on it, but Crown Point coach Mike Bazin knew his team was in good hands on the field.
"Our three captains (Kurtz, Morales, Spase Dorsuleski) showed the leadership throughout the postseason. It's great when you have quality players that still remain so driven," Bazin said.
Jon Aaron | LaPorte
Analysis: Aaron followed in his brother Josh's footsteps by leading the Slicers with 19 goals. Aaron added five assists and contributed on two-thirds of LaPorte's 36 goals this season.
Billy Biehl | Chesterton
Analysis: Biehl was on pace for a dominant season before suffering multiple facial fractures in a mid-season contest. The junior missed seven games, but was able to return to help lead the Trojans to a sectional championship. Biehl finished the year with 13 goals and five assists.
Spase Dorsuleski | Crown Point
Analysis: The stabilizing force on a defense that allowed just 10 goals all year, the senior brought leadership and a calm experience to the Bulldogs' second state title run in three years. Along with Tod Oram, Mike Tanchevski, and Connor Keaveney, they formed a defense that helped generate many goals for players like Krsteski, Morales, and Kurtz.
Cameron Foor | Wheeler
Analysis: Foor finally got his chance to shine this season and the senior delivered in a big way. The forward notched 28 goals and 12 assists while leading the Bearcats to a sectional championship.
Jorge Garcia | Clark
Analysis: The sentiment of coaches getting their first glance of Garcia was one-in-the-same. "He's a freshman?," many asked. As one of the most prolific scorers in the area, the young phenom racked up 23 goals, which was more than some teams in the Region. The two scary things are that he could have had more, but in some matches he was taken out early due to a lopsided win and he's going to be torturing opposing defenses for another three years.
Aaron Garza | Bishop Noll
Analysis: Along with being named First-team All-District and First-team All-Conference, this hard-shooting speedster netted 11 goals and five assists for a Warrior program that just keeps churning out successful season after successful season. A player who garnered a lot of attention, Garza also doubled up as the kicker on the football team and freed up many goals for other players because he was such a focal point for the Bishop Noll offensive attack.
Mike Gore | Andrean
Analysis: The do-it-all senior sent legendary coach Pete Reist out with a magical ride in his farewell season because of his quick feet and amazing soccer skill set. Once again, Gore led the NCC in goals, but he also led the Region in goals as well. Gore was one of the reasons why Andrean advanced to its second-ever semistate, as he tallied three goals in the sectional title game against Noll and scored the game's lone goal in its regional title win over Mishawaka Marian.
Chandler Gull | Rensselaer
Analysis: Gull helped his team tie the school record in wins with 13 while breaking the school's all-time win percentage with just three losses and a tie. His 16 assists ranked first in the Hoosier Conference and broke the single-season school record and career totals, which he will add to next year as a senior. On top of all of that, Gull also added 10 goals.
Caleb Gmyrek | Chesterton
Analysis: Gmyrek was dominant in the goal this season as the senior tallied 11 clean sheets, one off the program record for single-season shutouts. Gmyrek added 78 saves and had a 0.69% goals against average.
Nate Johnson | Portage
Analysis: Johnson was the rock for a strong Portage squad that upset Valparaiso in the sectional semifinals. While he's more of a natural back, Johnson was most beneificial to the Indians in the midfield while battling against the area's best players all season.
Luke Kovar | Valparaiso
Analysis: The do-everything senior led the Vikings with 10 goals and eight assists while earning All-District 1st Team honors. Kovar was the emotional leader of a talented senior class that left a profound mark at Valparaiso.
Bay Kurtz | Crown Point
Analysis: The Times Co-Player of the Year was one of the most valuable players on Crown Point's state title team, as he led the team in goals with 19 and was tied for the team lead in assists with 14. The elder Kurtz scored goals when it counted as he tallied one in the regional, semistate, and state title games.
Carmelo Morales | Crown Point
Analysis: The Times Co-Player of the Year was the key the started the car for the Bulldogs, as he was the player that teams focused on the most and after a breakout junior year, he didn't disappoint in his final year as a Bulldog with his 18 goals and ten assists on the year. His clutch goal in the waning minutes of the semistate over FW Canterbury will go down as one of the most dramatic in the program's storied history.
John Ward | Chesterton
Analysis: Ward helped pick up the slack after Jonathan Blake left the team and Billy Biehl was lost to injury. The senior forward had 12 goals and 15 assists and helped lead the Trojans to a sectional championship.
Max Young | Highland
Analysis: Young flat out frustrated other teams and is one of the fastest strikers in the area. With his combo of speed and size, it made him one of the most dangerous scoring threats around, as he notched a massive 24 goals while adding six assists. Young recorded a hat trick in five different games this year and will undoubtedly be back to his showstopping ways next year.
Duneland Athletic Conference
Chesterton -- Trent Weller, Jared O'Dell. Crown Point — Connor Keaveney, Erik Eksten, Brad Kurtz. Lake Central — Nikko Kollintzas, Ogi Janjus, Trevor Clapman, Jorge Trujillo. LaPorte -- Carter Huber. Merrillville -- Chiamara Anokwute, Bradley Brack. Michigan City -- Erik Stevenson. Portage -- Ben Schaefer, Matt Ford. Valparaiso -- Brendan Sutherland, Andrew Fletcher, Nate Dawson.
Great Lakes Athletic Conference
Clark — Arnulfo Villar, Alex Cruz. Hammond — Pedro Hernandez, Saul Vargas, Marco Zendejas. Morton -- Andres Hernandez.
Rensselaer -- Simmeon Gastineau, Nathan Myers.
Northwest Crossroads Conference
Andrean — Mike Metlov, Dan Adair, Aaron Corder. Griffith — David Schell, Matt Potacki. Highland — Joey Goodeve. Hobart -- Matt Plesac. Kankakee Valley — Collin Fritts, Adam Conley, Michael Vega, Michael Witvoet. Lowell — Noah Newcomb. Munster — Peter Panos.
Northwest Indiana Soccer Conference/Porter County Conference
Bishop Noll — Gabriel Anguiano, Ryan Cloghessy, Brandon Wade. Boone Grove -- Austin Aguilera, Nick Azevedo. Covenant Christian — John Van Kley. Hanover Central — Alec Nirtaut. Hebron -- Richard Botts, Nicholas Suber, Grant Morrow. Kouts -- Jesse Crider, Cole Van Dyke, Dennis Dearduff. Marquette Catholic -- Jack Disser, William Connelley. Morgan Twp. -- Cody Tratedas. Washington Township -- Joe Nugent, Josh Chilil. Westville -- Austin Swistek. Wheeler -- Joey DeSimone, Ben Moricz.
E.C. Central -- Daniel Castro, Erick Cuevas, Graciano Santos, Francisco Torres. Victory Christian -- Isaac Bustos, Evan Duey.
Student-athletes often find that the field of competition is an extension of the classroom.
Of the lessons learned, the ability to get back up after being knocked down may be the greatest.
Trevor Spangenberg, a goalie on Missouri State's soccer team, has been there.
The 2009 Boone Grove graduate was playing a Premier Development Team game in Littleton, Colo., with the Springfield (Mo.) Demize on June 22, 2012, when he came out to challenge a 50-50 ball with a charging forward. It's a moment he'd encountered 100 times before, though this time was different.
"He went high and caught my leg," Spangenberg said.
The collison broke his right leg. An orthopedist was on hand, so Spangenberg received prompt treatment. He underwent surgery at a nearby trauma center the next morning.
Compartment syndrome occurred during the operation. The wound wouldn't close due to swelling and a metal brace was attached to his leg. Spanganberg had three surgeries in eight days. The brace was removed and a titanium rod inserted in his tibia.
From there, he and his mom Melinda, who had flown to Colorado, took an 18-hour train ride to Chicago. A fourth surgery at Porter Hospital in Portage, attempted to close the wound, and a fifth at Northwestern, grafted skin to cover it. Spangenberg couldn't move his leg for five days.
A doctor told him he would be unable to run for a year and if he played soccer again, it would not be at the level he once performed. Spangenberg appreciated the honesty, but would not accept it.
"It helped motivate me even more, to prove them wrong," he said. "There wasn't ever really a question of me making it back."
Since Spangenberg had redshirted as a freshman and the injury didn't occur in a collage match, he lost his junior season. He quickly focused all of his attention on getting back between the pipes for 2013. During the process, he found the web site, Take No Days Off, which not only impacted his recovery, but his life.
"I could let it ruin me or bounce back better than before," Spangenberg said. "I had a pretty good work rate before, but the fact that I lost soccer, it put things in perspective. I appreciated it more. I realized it wasn't entitled to me any more. It can be taken away at any time. I made sure I gave 100 percent every day. I applied the (Take No Days Off) principle to soccer and it grew into school and everything else. It made everything more complete. It made my life a lot better."
He returned to Missouri State in August 2012, 25 pounds lighter and on crutches. Spangenberg spent the next eight months religiously rehabbing at the school training facility. He was medically cleared on March 13, 2013. He circled the date of the first spring game with a goal of playing, which he did.
"That was my first big step," Spangenberg said.
The next was returning to the PDT team he was on when he got injured.
"I wanted to come back in August ready to go, not have any doubts," Spangenberg said. "I had to take the risk."
It proved well worth it. Spangenberg is in the midst of a remarkable season in which he has fashioned seven straight shutouts and twice won the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Week award. He stands one short of the school career record of 11 and his career goals against average of 0.37 ranks second in MVC history.
"I can't take all the credit," Spangenberg said. "It's everyone in front of me. They set the standard from day one."
Most important to him, the Bears (10-3-2) have clinched the top seed in the MVC tournament. If they win, they qualify for the NCAA's big dance. Mom and dad (Don) haven't missed a match, even with the eight-and-a-half hour drives.
"I have an unbelievable support system," Spangenberg said. "They've been behind me the whole time, the hard days ..."
While he will graduate in December, Spangenberg hopes this won't be the end of soccer. He wants to play professionally, even if it means going overseas.
"To play and see the world at the same time, it would be an unbelievable experience," he said.
INDIANAPOLIS | Something had to give Saturday night.
Both Avon and Crown Point came into the Class 2A boys soccer state title game undefeated and senior Nate Brower wanted to personally make sure that the Bulldogs ended their season that way.
After battling to a 1-1 tie after 80 minutes, Crown Point netted two goals within 2:45 of each other in the first extra session to down Class 2A No. 2 Avon 3-1 and win the program's second state championship in the last three years.
"We feel elated right now!" Crown Point coach Mike Bazin exclaimed as he was being mobbed by the Bulldogs faithful.
Brower's goal game at the 82:24 mark in extra time when he put one in after Bay Kurtz's shot went off Carmelo Morales and right to Brower and freshman Brad Kurtz scored the third after striking one in off a deflection from his previous shot.
"I actually don't remember what happened because I was cramping, but they gave me credit for it," said Brower, who added his fifth score of the season.
Avon connected on a goal in the 11th minute, but Crown Point caught a break after the Orioles were flagged for an offsides call.
Bay Kurtz notched the first shot on goal for Crown Point (21-0-1) and connected with the first goal of the game at the 26:30 mark.
The senior tried to clear a defender from the ball, but with an extra step, he ripped a shot before the outside defender could close in on Kurtz as he scored from 25 yards out.
With Crown Point controlling the ball for a good portion of the first half, Avon (22-1-2) responded with a goal at the 38:56 mark when junior midfielder Taylor Kleyn headed in a deflection off of a Quinton Bridegroom free kick.
"I'm really proud of my guys to respond the way they did," Avon coach Nate Schmidt said.
After getting a feel for the adjustments each team would make for the first 18 minutes of the second half, Oriole junior Trevor Semakula pushed one through the defense and Jordan Kleyn had a wide open shot, but C.P. sophomore keeper Connor Keaveney got his right hand on it and punched the ball over the crossbar.
Eight minutes later at the 66:33 mark, the Orioles had another great opportunity after Keaveney deflected one that went to Avon, but senior defender Tod Oram was right there at the goal line to make a dramatic save.
"(Keaveney) has had our backs all season and I got his," Oram said. "This feels more real than the first one and I'm proud of every boy on this team."
"We started this season and teammates and friends, but we ended it as a family."
INDIANAPOLIS | While the seniors and juniors experienced the triumph of a state finals victory in 2011, the younger Crown Point starters were middle schoolers back then.
Brad Kurtz, Connor Keaveney, Scott Garcia and Michael Tanchevski looked to the upperclassmen for advice on how to deal with the circus that was this past week.
"They said to keep our heads and stick to our daily routines," said freshman Brad Kurtz, who scored the third and last goal of the game.
Crown Point also had a distinct advantage, as it was the only team out of the eight competing for a state championship to be there for the second time. It helped that it was so recently with members from this year's team.
"They have been here before, so they kept telling us to play fearless and hard like we have all season," sophomore Michael Tanchevski said.
Relentless offensive attack: Avon sophomore goalkeeper Tyler Shanahan recorded 14 shutouts and 56 saves this year prior to Saturday, so the Avon defense hasn't seen many shots on goal this year.
However, the Bulldogs have seven players who have scored at least three goals or more, which led to C.P. having a 13-1 shots advantage.
Defending their turf: Avon's big three -- senior midfielder Jonathan Kopp, senior midfielder Quinton Bridegroom and junior forward Jordan Kleyn -- have wreaked havoc on opponents this year.
The trio combined for 53 goals and 42 assists this season.
But on Saturday, the three combined for no goals and no assists, and had just three shots on goal.
Other state finals scores: In the Class A girls state championship, West Lafayette (15-7) defeated Gibson Southern (16-4-2) 2-0 on the strength of two goals from senior forward Shelby Mann, who had a whopping 36 goals coming in to Saturday.
In the Class A boys final, No. 1 Guerin Catholic (18-2-3), who defeated Andrean in the semistate, came out victorious after a Zach Garvey goal at 71:44 beat Providence (15-7-2) 1-0.
In the Class 2A girls title game, Fishers (16-2-3), which defeated Valparaiso in the semistate, took Avon to extra time, but the Tigers suffered their first loss since Sept. 23, falling 1-0 as Cassidy Blacha put a header in at the 85:32 mark of the first extra period.
CROWN POINT | After Crown Point's 2-1 semistate win over Fort Wayne Canterbury, Bulldog forward Carmelo Morales took the necessary pictures and did little celebrating.
When talking to reporters afterward, one joked that it was OK to smile because his team was going to state for the second time in three years.
Morales cracked a little smile and got down to the task at hand of answering myriad questions. Every answer was short, sweet and to the point.
Morales knew that the season was not over yet and after last year's regional loss to Duneland Conference foe Lake Central, he knew not to take any game lightly and immediately prepare mentally for the next hurdle.
"Melo is the most solid mental player we have and he's one of the big reasons why we have responded from last year," Crown Point coach Mike Bazin said.
Last year, Crown Point headed into the postseason with just one loss. The team kept it rolling this year with a record of 20-0-1 with just one road block ahead in the Class 2A No. 2 Avon Orioles today at 5 p.m. at IUPUI in Indianapolis for the state championship.
Bazin has emphasized not going through the motions ever since the season started and even more so after his team's win over Bishop Noll back on Sep. 16.
"We didn't want to have any complacency or let up on our intensity, especially when the postseason came around," he said.
That part has not been a problem for the No. 4 Bulldogs, who have given up just nine goals all year. Morales has added a team-high 18 goals. His 10 assists are third highest on the team.
His goal in the waning moments of the semistate final is the main reason why the Bulldogs are sitting where they are.
Morales realizes what's at stake.
"This means everything to us, especially for the young guys that haven't been here before," Morales said. "You don't get moments like this all the time."
CROWN POINT | Crown Point senior defender Tod Oram pointed out something rather embarrassing about goalkeeper Connor Keaveney during Tuesday's photo op for the state finalists.
Oram said the funniest moment from this year was when the whole team realized that Keaveney grunts loudly every single time he tries to save a ball.
Whatever he's doing seems to be working. He is on the back wall of a defense that has given up just two goals in the entire postseason.
The overall season total of goals has also come few and far between for the opposition, as the Class 2A No. 4-ranked Bulldogs have allowed nine.
"Connor has done a phenomenal job back there," Crown Point coach Mike Bazin said. "The defense is his best friend, and he does a good job organizing them."
Fortunately for the Bulldogs, Crown Point (20-0-1) has another two years with him between the pipes.
While Keaveney realizes he'll be around for a while, he is solely focused on this year and wants to win this group of seniors its second state title over the last three years. C.P. meets No. 2 Avon (22-0-1) at 5 p.m. Saturday at IUPUI.
"As a sophomore I have two more years, but I have to play for them," said Keaveney, who has a miniscule 0.43 goals-against-average. "I know I'm gonna have to work just as hard as they do to win."
One would think there would be pressure for a 15-year-old kid playing in his first year with 17 and 18-year-olds on a team that was expected, and very much favored, to make a deep run in the postseason. Keaveney says that has wavered as the season has progressed, even though the team is undefeated.
"I owe my defense everything because the four in front of me have strengths that support each other," Keaveney said. "In the preseason there was lots of pressure, but I kind of just adapted because we have the best defense in the state."
While his stats may be deceiving with the amount of saves he has racked up (79), many of those saves have been critical to C.P.'s success, including the one in the 16th minute of the Bulldogs' 2-1 semistate-clinching win over upstart Fort Wayne Canterbury.
After IBCA All-District 2 player Britt Watts fired a shot off a direct kick from 35 yards out, the ball deflected off a teammate and Keaveney made a jumping save to his left, making the scoring attempt sail over the crossbar.
Keaveney claims that because he faces the likes of Bay Kurtz, Carmelo Morales, and Stojan Krsteski every day, he is ready for basically any shot that comes his way.
"I'm used to playing at a high level and I may even be mentally over-prepared," said Keaveney, who has 14 shutouts. "We also have the best strikers in the state, and they have put me in a good position to win."
WARSAW | The 2013 Northwest Indiana soccer season has seen the theory of "next man up" come to fruition, as many injuries have occurred on great teams.
However, Crown Point's mentality has been "last man back", as it has many scoring threats, including IBCA District 1 First-teamer Carmelo Morales.
The senior forward sent Class 2A No. 4 Crown Point to the state finals for the second time in three years after netting the go-ahead goal at the 3:07 mark of the second half in the Bulldogs 2-1 win over Fort Wayne Canterbury in the Class 2A Warsaw Semistate final.
As the last man lined up on the play, he took freshman Brad Kurtz's corner kick off his head and connected for his 18th goal of the season.
"I noticed that all of our corner kicks were going to the back post, so I stayed out wide, crashed in, and had great hop over the defender," Morales said.
Crown Point coach Mike Bazin was impressed with the way the younger Kurtz got the ball there and commended Morales' ability to stay focused.
"That was a feat of superhuman strength for Brad to get the corner that far because he was cramping since the first half," he said. "Carmelo is the most solid mental player we have and to have him as a leader from the 2011 team is amazing."
After being knotted at zero for the first 23 minutes, Fort Wayne Canterbury (14-8-1) struck first when senior forward Britt Watts' free kick was saved by Connor Keaveney.
But senior midfielder Max Rowley was in the right place at the right time, as he hammered it home past Keaveney.
"I'm glad we escaped that one because we missed a mark just like in the first game, but we didn't give up," Bazin said.
Seven minutes later, Crown Point (20-0-1) answered after senior forward Nate Brower was taken down within the 18 and fellow senior Bay Kurtz made the Cavaliers pay by rifling one past senior keeper Robert DelBello on the ensuing penalty kick.
"This feels pretty good and this week is going to be business as usual," Bazin said. "This has been a goal for us the entire year and I'm glad they're proving their worth."
LAKEVILLE | The wild ride has finally come to an all-too-soon end.
A 3-0 loss Saturday to Guerin Catholic in the Class A LaVille Semistate semifinal closed a long postseason run for the Andrean boys soccer team, just two wins short of playing for a state championship.
The loss also ended the 24-year career of 59ers head coach Pete Reist.
Reist decided in advance that this season would be his last, but he likely didn’t expect it to continue this long. His overachieving squad rode a pair of 1-0 wins in the LaVille Regional to a semistate appearance, but Guerin Catholic proved too tough a test for Andrean.
“They’re an excellent team,” Reist said of the Golden Eagles. “We were aware of their offensive firepower, but their midfield and their defense is excellent. They play a complete game. Their short passing game is outstanding. They don’t get rattled with a little bit of pressure put on them.
“We gave it our best. They didn’t let us do a lot of the things we’ve been able to do in the past five or six games. Credit to them.”
Guerin Catholic fired 19 shots at the Andrean defense – 11 on goal – while holding the 59ers to just one shot on goal. Doug Kaskie scored twice for the Golden Eagles and Jacob Cloran added the late third goal.
Chris Orozco made eight saves for Andrean in the loss.
“For the kids on this team, it was a great run,” Reist said. “I think that’s why, with 17 seniors on the team, you’re not seeing a bunch of heads bowed over there. They know they did an excellent job.”
Reist said it still hadn’t sunk in after Saturday’s loss that his coaching career is now over.
“Probably sometime next April or May, I might get the itch,” Reist said. “Hopefully, I’ll pick up a fishing pole and get where I can’t get near a soccer field.”
WARSAW | In 2011, Crown Point needed a shootout to defeat Warsaw during its state title run. Bay Kurtz wanted to make sure that didn't happen again.
The Bulldogs senior scored the only goal of the match at the 73:33 mark, leading Class 2A No. 4 Crown Point over host No. 9 Warsaw 1-0 on Saturday afternoon in the semistate semifinals.
Fort Wayne Canterbury defeated Marion 5-2 in the first semifinal.
After missing a shot two minutes earlier that deflected off the post, Kurtz corralled a pass from younger brother Brad and chopped the ball over Warsaw goalie Peyton Long.
"It was a rough game getting into the attacking third of the field," said Bay Kurtz, who scored his 17th goal of the season. "Sometimes our shots are on and sometimes they're not, but Brad and I made eye contact; he brought it up and I put it in."
The first half saw a fierce defensive battle as Crown Point (19-0-1) recorded just four shots on goal with Warsaw having just one.
Warsaw's came in the 23rd minute on a Sam Albritten header that went a foot to the right and just one minute later, Crown Point senior Spase Dorsuleski was called for a dangerous play on a bicycle kick attempt to clear the ball out of the Bulldog mixer.
The host Tigers (14-3-5) had an indirect kick from 12 yards out, but Warsaw defender Stephen Kolbe's shot didn't get past the Crown Point wall.
"Warsaw was very dangerous on some set pieces and we talked about it at the half," Crown Point coach Mike Bazin said. "We missed some marks, but luckily it didn't nip us in the bud."
MERRILLVILLE | The play defined the season for one player and defined a mindset for another.
When Chesterton’s Billy Biehl and Andrean’s Daniel Adair went up for a 50-50 ball in a mid-season game earlier this year, Biehl came down with multiple facial fractures that sidelined him for the rest of the regular season and Adair came away with a soiled reputation among the Chesterton faithful.
Adair regrets the result of the play, but the Andrean senior won’t stop fulfilling his responsibility on the field: make sure the other team doesn’t get the ball.
“It was obviously unintentional,” Adair said. “It was a 50-50 ball and it was just really unlucky. The mentality I’ve learned is to get the ball.”
Adair credits Andrean coach Pete Reist for instilling that mindset, and while the longtime 59ers coach agrees the play was unfortunate, he wouldn’t change Adair’s approach.
“Danny only knows one speed in this game,” Reist said. “There wasn’t any intent to injure; Danny isn’t that type of player. He does let everyone know in those first 10 minutes that if you come his way, it’s not going to be easy.”
Reist saw something in Adair’s approach to the game earlier this season when he decided to drop the senior back to become a second defensive stopper. Knowing that the margin for error is incredibly small in the postseason, Reist is happy with his decision.
“We’re at the point now where the games are decided by one goal,” Reist said. “We have to be mentally ready to play and we need the experience to read the field. Danny brings all those things. He’s accomplished what we’ve asked him to accomplish.”
Adair’s prowess has helped define a stingy Andrean defense that has given up just one goal in five postseason games. Facing Guerin Catholic (15-2-3) will be a challenge as the Golden Eagles are led by prolific goal scorer George Poppas. The senior has taken 105 shots this season and has tallied 24 goals and 17 assists.
“We hear they are a very good team, the top team in the state,” Adair said. “Our defense has really kept off a lot of goals and we need to continue that.”
A victory in LaVille on Saturday would get the 59ers (14-7) one step closer to their first state championship. It would also continue what has been a dream season for Adair and his 15 senior teammates.
“(Winning the regional) was a really great feeling and that only makes us want it more,” Adair said. “This could really be our last time out there and I want to give it my all and we want to play our hearts out.”
MERRILLVILLE | "Honestly have no idea where I would be in this world without my coach, dessert eating partner, advisor, personal comedian, and all around best friend. Love my dad more than anyone could ever imagine. For all his efforts and time put into trying to make me successful, I hope that one day I can repay him for it all."
What the Crown Point brothers Bay and Brad Kurtz are doing on the soccer field is certainly helping them give their father, Dave Kurtz, the return that Bay declared to give him from the aforementioned Instagram post written back on Father's Day.
The senior-freshman tandem has its team three wins away from hoisting the program's second state title in three years.
"Our dad kept us away from bad habits. He gets most of the credit because he's been training us since we were three," said Bay, a recent Liberty University signee.
When Bay was a sophomore, he contributed with 11 goals and a team-high 12 assists on a state-title team that was loaded with upperclassmen talent and it won him 2011 Times Player of the Year honor.
"Bay is composed and really smooth with the ball," said Brad. "I can always count on him for a play."
An example of how much the Bulldogs have in Brad, he takes most of the corner kicks when C.P. gets the ball on the left corner while Bay takes most of them from the right side.
"Brad is a phenomenal playmaker and we have a good connection," said Bay. "We have scored a few goals on set pieces from Brad's side because he has a great left foot."
This season, Brad has scored seven goals, which is good for 4th on a team that includes second-team all-state player Carmelo Morales and Lowell's all-time regular season scoring leader in transfer Stojan Krsteski, who each have double-digit goals this year.
With all of the names in the star-studded starting lineup, Brad feels right at home, even though he is just a freshman.
"I see how the seniors play together and I just try to complement them as a player," said Brad.
Bay, who played at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy last year, decided to come back as a senior to play with his brother and try to win another state title for the Class 2A No. 4 Bulldogs.
"Playing together makes this season more special for the two," Crown Point coach Mike Bazin said. "Brad has made a great impact and Bay has been consistent the entire year."
Class 2A Warsaw Semistate
Marion (16-3) vs. Fort Wayne Canterbury (13-7-1), 9 a.m.
No. 4 Crown Point (18-0-1) vs. No. 9 Warsaw (14-2-5), 11 a.m.
Championship, 6 p.m.
Favorite: Crown Point. Darkhorse: Marion.
Advancement: Winner will play the Evansville Harrison Semistate winner in the state championship at 5 p.m. Nov. 2 at Michael A. Carroll Stadium at IUPUI in Indianapolis.
Directions: Take U.S. 30 East to the Indiana 15 exit (Goshen/Warsaw). Turn right onto IN-15 South/N. Detroit Street. Turn right onto E. Winona Avenue. Take the third left onto S. Buffalo Street. Turn slightly right onto Fisher Avenue. Turn right onto Tiger Lane. Destination is Warsaw High School, 1 Tiger Lane.
Players to watch: Crown Point -- Bay Kurtz, Sr., F; Carmelo Morales, Sr., F; Stojan Krsteski, Sr., F; Brad Kurtz, Fr., MF; Tod Oram, Sr., D; Spase Dorsuleski, Sr., D; Erik Eksten, Jr., D. Fort Wayne Canterbury -- Britt Watts, Sr.; Nick Bellavance, So.; Jacob Fritz, Jr.; Ryley DeJong, Jr. Marion -- Luke Oliver, Jr.; Isaiah Smith, Jr.; Blake Neal, Sr.; Derek Harvey, Sr. Warsaw -- Manuel Rodriguez, Jr.; Sam Allbritten, Jr., Peyton Long, Jr.
Fast facts: Defending champion Warsaw is the only team to make it back from last year's field. It lost at state. C.P. was 2011 state champion in 2A, while Canterbury won that year in A. Marion has never been to state.
Class A LaVille Semistate
Argos (18-3) vs. Fort Wayne Luers (17-3), 9 a.m.
Andrean (14-7) vs. Guerin Catholic (15-2-3), 11 a.m.
Championship, 6 p.m.
Advancement: Winner will face the Floyd Central Semistate winner in the state championship at noon Nov. 2 at Michael A. Carroll Stadium at IUPUI in Indianapolis.
Directions: Take U.S. 30 East to Indiana 17 South (Plymouth). Turn right onto N. Michigan Street, which becomes Michigan Road. Merge onto U.S. 31 North. Make a U-turn onto U.S. 31 South/Dixie Highway. LaVille High School is located off of U.S. 31 South.
Favorite: Guerin Catholic. Darkhorse: Argos.
Local players to watch: Andrean, Mike Gore, Sr., MF; Daniel Adair, Sr., D; Aaron Corder, Sr., D.
Fast facts: Two-time defending Class A state champion Fort Wayne Canterbury moved up to Class 2A this season. Andrean has never captured more than a regional championship. The 59ers won their only other regional in 1996. Argos is the only public school in the field.
-- Compiled by Paul Honeycutt and Paul Oren
LAKEVILLE | It was clear on Saturday night that one goal might be enough for a regional title.
That goal finally came in the 77th minute when Andrean forward Michael Gore broke through the Mishawaka Marian defense and gave the 59ers all the offense they needed in a 1-0 win.
It is Andrean’s first regional title since 1996.
“We had a lot of opportunities the whole time, but I was just looking for that one break,” Gore said. “I figured the first team that scores is going to be the team that wins. I was really looking for that one big one.”
Gore finally found his opportunity on a through ball in the middle of the field, dribbling around a pair of defenders before beating the Mishawaka Marian keeper with a ground ball.
“Michael was making a run on the guy, and it was just a matter of if he got the guy on his inside hip,” Andrean coach Pete Reist said. “Once he got there, he established position.”
It was a second consecutive 1-0 win in regional play for Andrean. The 59ers beat Wheeler by that count in Thursday's semifinals.
As Andrean's offense has found a way to get the one goal needed in the last two games, the defense has been doing everything they could be asked of them by keeping matches within reach and recording two shutouts.
“The back line has been playing phenomenal, especially lately,” Gore said. “They’ve been playing some exceptional defense. The key is winning the 50-50 balls out of the air.”
The Andrean defense held Mishawaka Marian to four shots Saturday night, three on goal. 59ers keeper Chris Orozco had three saves.
“I thought we had the better of it early on in the game, then right at the 30-minute mark they took over,” Reist said. “We struggled through and survived and then right at the end we came through again. It came right down to two really even teams. It was a great game. You just can’t give Michael Gore that many chances.”
Andrean will return to Newton Park in Lakeville on Saturday for the semistate.
“It’s a bigger game, but every game’s going to get bigger from here,” Gore said. “It’s just the next game.”
MERRILLVILLE | Two celebrations down, two more to go.
Crown Point, which was notably subdued during its triumph, remained focused on the task at hand in its 3-0 Class 2A Merrillville Regional championship win over Duneland foe Chesterton on Saturday afternoon.
Class 2A No. 4 Crown Point (18-0-1) will now play the Warsaw-Northridge winner in the second match of the Warsaw Semistate at 11 a.m. Saturday.
"We didn't let off the gas pedal all game long," Crown Point coach Mike Bazin said. "We're feeling pretty great because one of our goals all year was to make it this far."
The Bulldogs struck first in the fifth minute when Carmelo Morales directed a throw-in to Bay Kurtz deep in Chesterton's six.
Kurtz, who had a bad angle on the ball and was covered by two defenders, sneaked a pass to the weak side and hit Nate Brower for a wide-open goal.
Nine minutes later, Morales added C.P's second score by taking what seemed to be a harmless entry pass from Kurtz and belted it from 30 yards away on Chesterton senior goalie Caleb Gmyrek's near side.
Thirty-nine minutes later, Trojans senior Mitch Winey was called for a handball in the Chesterton box. Kurtz ended the scoring on the ensuing penalty kick.
"We have some dynamic play in front and after we got the first goal, we weren't as comfortable, but after the second and third, we felt pretty good," said Bazin.
Because of Crown Point's stout defensive formation and effort, the Trojans (16-3-1) had limited opportunities to score, as the ball was mainly played on Chesterton's side of the field.
"This has been the most shut down our defense has been this year," Bazin said. "With Spase (Dorsuleski) and Erik (Eksten), you can't beat those two and (goalie Connor Keaveney's) easiest job is to organize the defense and to gather up a few loose balls."
Chesterton's only real threat to score was on a direct kick in the 74th minute when senior forward John Ward's attempt sailed a foot wide to the left.
"We couldn't get anything going and were stagnant offensively," Chesterton coach James Sensibaugh said. "The team I coached (Saturday) didn't resemble the team we've been all year."
MERRILLVILLE | It was only a matter of time before Crown Point was going to score in bunches.
After a 45-minute drought from its first goal, the Class 2A No. 4 Bulldogs scored four goals within a 15-minute, second-half span and disposed of Duneland foe Lake Central 5-1 in the nightcap semifinal of the Merrillville Regional on Thursday night
The win avenges last year's heartbreaking regional semifinal loss.
Six minutes into the game, Lake Central (5-10-3) made the costly mistake of committing a foul in the Indians box, and worst of all to senior forward Carmelo Morales, who connected on the ensuing penalty kick.
But much to the chagrin and surprise of the Bulldogs (17-0-1), the young Indians struck back three minutes later when senior Trevor Klapman flipped a one-timer in from 30 yards away that banged off the left post.
When asked if Crown Point coach Mike Bazin thought he thought the goal would propel L.C. to steal yet another regional from his team, he simply answered in one sentence.
"I thought that the entire game," he said.
Both teams had several more opportunities to convert in the first half, including an Ogi Janjus shot that went off the crossbar for Lake Central and Bay Kurtz's two shots that went off the post.
"Last year's loss was burned in our brains and motivated us all season," Bazin said. "L.C. came in with a great game plan and hats off to (L.C. junior keeper) Jorge Trujillo because he's athletic."
But Bulldogs junior Erik Eksten opened up the fury with the second goal on a header from a Brad Kurtz corner kick.
Then between the 67th and 70th minutes, Morales added his second, while Bay Kurtz and Brad Kurtz scored within 43 seconds of each other.
"We talked all week about keeping our shape defensively and eventually their athleticism caught up to us," Lake Central coach Jereme Rainwater said. "They were ready to play and were definitely not gonna overlook us two years in a row."
Chesterton (16-2-1) will play the Bulldogs in Saturday's championship game at 11 a.m. after decimating Munster in its 4-1 win in the first semifinal.
The biggest difference was two goals scored within 41 seconds of each other from junior Jared O'Dell and sophomore Trent Weller in the 9th and 10th minutes, respectively.
"We played a really good team today and dug ourselves in a hole right away," Munster coach Jim Prasopoulos said. "We accomplished some good things this year and hopefully we're fortunate enough to come back and give it another try next year."
After Chesterton added a goal in the 21st minute on a Billy Biehl connection, Munster (10-8-1) responded in the second half after senior Peter Panos put one in from the 6 after a Nik Kajmakoski throw-in during the 47th minute.
Five minutes later, the Trojans kept Munster down three after senior John Ward scored.
"I liked our intensity and there were times they were pushed up, which is how we got two goals," Chesterton coach James Sensibaugh said. "We're gonna enjoy this and give them a good game, whomever it is."
LAKEVILLE | Andrean faced a tougher road than was expected Thursday night.
After 40 minutes of scoreless soccer, Eric Guetzloff headed in a Mike Metlov pass early in the second half to give the 59ers a hard-fought 1-0 win over Wheeler.
“Whoever scored first was really going to be in the driver’s seat,” Andrean coach Pete Reist said. “We scored early (in the second half) and then we get the penalty shot and we missed it. If we hit that penalty shot, the game’s probably over then and maybe the dam breaks.”
That penalty shot was taken by Mike Gore after Wheeler was called for a handball inside the box. A dive by Bearcats keeper Patrick Berg prevented the goal. Berg had five total saves and kept his team in the match.
“He always steps up in the big games,” Wheeler coach Dave Bock said of his senior keeper. “He’s had really good games in the big games when we’ve needed him to. He was mistake-free (Thursday). He can hang his hat on a great game to end his career here, because he really did a great job.”
Both teams played nearly flawless soccer in a much more physical rematch of Andrean’s 4-0 regular-season win over the Bearcats. Bock said Wheeler was just unable to compete with the size of the 59ers on a lot of 50-50 balls, including the play that lead to the game’s lone goal.
"We were worried about their size on set pieces,” Bock said. “It’s unlucky to lose a game like that but we had our chances to score and we just didn’t finish.”
Wheeler had 13 shots on the night – three more than Andrean – but put only three on goal, compared to six by the 59ers. Chris Orozco made three saves for Andrean.
The win was important for Reist, but it was also nice to watch a former player lead a valiant effort.
“Give Wheeler a lot of credit. I’m so proud of Dave,” Reist said. “Dave played for me years ago here at Andrean, and he’s gone to Wheeler and he’s just put together a great program in the past couple of years.”
Andrean will face Mishawaka Marian in Saturday’s championship.
The Knights defeated Boone Grove 4-1 in Thursday’s nightcap. Nick Azevedo scored for the Wolves, and Nathan Miller had five saves in the loss.
You find out who your true friends are when you need them the most.
The glimmer of light through the darkness for Bill Metz and his family has been the way the Portage community has opened its arms to them in the wake of their tragedy.
"I've told more than one person that Portage is a wonderful town," Metz said. "If you don't think so, wait until you need help and you'll find out."
Metz has been experiencing that compassion the last three months. On July 10, his son Jeff was seriously injured in a confrontation outside an Orlando, Fla., club. Complications left him paralyzed from the chest down. A 2001 Portage grad, Jeff was the goalie on Indians soccer teams that won two regionals and reached the final four his senior year. He also punted on the football team. Jeff played soccer at St. Francis University in Fort Wayne and officiated soccer and football games with his dad for several years before getting a job with Ecolab in Davanport, Fla., in May 2011.
The circumstances surrounding his fateful encounter remain a mystery, in part because Jeff doesn't remember, in part because no one saw it, or if they did, they're not saying. Based on the information gathered, Jeff was leaving the club where he'd met co-workers. A security person told Orlando Police he saw Metz and an unknown having words on the sidewalk. He told them to let it go and the men briefly walked in opposite directions. Moments later, Metz was found unconscious, having sustained a head injury. Bill said it appears Jeff was struck from behind, but it's unknown if his injuries were a result of being punched or his head hitting the ground.
Surveillance video only showed a man fleeing the scene. Two possible witnesses have also not been identified. Despite the efforts of Fox 35 News in Orlando, there has been no progress in the case. Bill said the tourist nature of the city, with so many people coming and going, hampers the investigation.
"The No. 1 question is why, and there's no answer at this point," said Bill, a 1973 Portage grad who played football for Les Klein. "I saw a quote on TV. A man was talking about his injured son, saying there's no pain like that of a parent watching their child suffer. I hope nobody has to find out."
Jeff underwent emergency surgery. He was placed in a medically-induced coma, which led to his spinal issues. While his brain function is strong, the paralysis remains and uncertainty lies ahead.
"If you talked to him on the phone, you wouldn't know there was an issue," Bill said. "He had really depressed periods, but he realizes what's going on and is dealing with it in a more positive way."
Jeff's mom, Florence Metz, has been in Atlanta, where Jeff was moved to a spine and brain institute, since July, staying with family. Jeff is scheduled for another surgery Monday and if all goes well, he will be discharged to come home Nov. 13. Bill is in the process of renovating their house to make it wheelchair accessible. Jeff will continue his rehabilitation in Chicago.
While Jeff's company insurance has helped tremendously, the Metzes are left with ponderous expenses, as the hospital bill alone exceeds $1 million.
In response, Portage has rallied to the cause. Florence's boss Lisa Magura coordinated the Fall Mall Crawl, a fundraiser to be held Saturday in the Portage Mall. Attorney Susan Kelly-Johnson and businessman Jeff Reeder are spearheading a Nov. 23 event at Nativity of Our Savior Church. Hobart boys soccer John Hutchins, who lives in Portage, has contacted Brian Pillar of the Hobart Elks to run a benefit cornhole tournament there Nov. 24.
"The support has been overwhelming; I'd be remiss if I didn't say it," Bill said. "I could tell you unbelievable stories. It brings tears to my eyes, how kind people have been."
MUNSTER | Peter Panos plays with reckless abandon on the soccer pitch.
He tries to get in the head of the opposing goalkeeper by creating as many shots as possible for himself and the rest of his team.
A prime example of this occurred in the 61st minute of the Mustangs' 2-1 sectional title win over E.C. Central this past Saturday.
After missing on three separate attempts in first half and up 1-0, the Munster senior forward rifled one from 35 yards after dribbling for a few yards, totally putting off the crowd and E.C. keeper Juvenal Enriquez, who all probably thought he was going to pass it to an open Nik Kajmakoski.
The laser shot wound up going off of Enriquez's fingertips, deflecting off the crossbar and falling right back into the keeper's hands.
After the sequence of events, the crowd got predictably louder and Enriquez wiped his forehead in relief that his team wasn't down two goals late in the game.
"I felt like I'm the one that had to do something because it's my senior year and we weren't gonna be the team to break the (sectional) streak," said Panos, whose Mustangs won a state-record 12th consecutive sectional crown. "I'm always trying to get a shot if I have an opening."
The upstart Cardinals fought back with a fantastic goal from phenom sophomore Francisco Torres, who hooked one in on a free kick from 20 yards away.
Panos wound up getting the best of Enriquez, though, when he connected on the game-winning goal from right outside the 18 after going to the left upper 90.
"Peter was injured a bit earlier in the season, and it's nice to have him back at full strength," Munster coach Jim Prasopoulos said of Panos. "Peter has been on varsity forever and he, like the rest of the seniors, does a lot of things well."
He hopes to keep it up against Chesterton (15-2-1) in the first Class 2A Merrillville Regional semifinal match against Chesterton (15-2-1), which beat the Mustangs back on Sept. 7.
"We've had a lot of ups and downs, but it's a whole new season now," Panos said. "Just because we won a sectional doesn't mean it's over."
UNION TWP. | Cameron Foor was sure that if he ever got his chance to shine, he’d certainly deliver for the Wheeler boys soccer team.
He thought those moments would come over the last two years, yet he never had the breakout season he envisioned. It wasn’t until Foor was forced into a leadership role with the Indiana Magic last spring that the now-senior forward found his niche.
Playing on a team of younger players, Foor found the confidence he needed to be the go-to goal scorer. When the situation presented itself for Foor to step forward for the Bearcats this fall, he was ready.
“I was just really nervous over the last couple years,” he said. “There were other players that I could depend on. Once people started depending on me, that really boosted my confidence.”
Wheeler coach David Bock never lacked confidence in Foor and when circumstances pushed the senior to the forefront of the offense this season, Bock never wavered in his support.
“I had an idea of what was going to happen,” Bock said. “I had a conversation with Cameron and it was a little bit tough for him at first. When he played with the Magic, he was their hope up front and that made him realize he was pretty good.”
Foor began the season in a tough match against E.C. Central and by halftime the senior had tallied two goals. The Bearcats ultimately lost the match 6-2, but in the process, they gained a confident goal scorer.
“By halftime of that first game," Foor said, "I knew I could do this."
Foor has scored 26 more goals since the season opener, including four in last weekend’s 9-1 sectional championship win over Washington Township. The win pushes the Bearcats to a rematch with Andrean in tonight's semifinals of the Class A LaVille Regional. Wheeler has some history with the 59ers this season, as it was the only match in which the Bearcats were shut out. Foor has been spending every minute he can practicing for what he expects to be a challenging rematch.
“I’ve been training a lot in how to handle being man-marked,” Foor said. “It’s the best feeling when teams game plan for you, but it starts all in practice. I need to demand the ball and help create some opportunities.”
Much like his senior goal scorer, Bock is also brimming with confidence that the Bearcats can deliver a better showing in their second performance against the 59ers.
“It’s going to be a chess match,” Bock said. “I’m looking forward to that. They’ve got a lot of talent up front, in the back and down the middle. We hope to be able to step up, stick with them and take our chances.”
Chesterton's boys soccer program made it to the state championship game in 2007, but the achievements of this year's squad might be just as impressive.
The 2013 Trojans are 15-2, picking up the program's sixth sectional title. The road to today's 5 p.m. Class 2A Merrillville Regional semifinal with Munster has had its share of potholes, but the Trojans have traversed the bumpy route.
Senior Jonathan Blake received a tryout from a Chicago Fire junior team a week before the season started, and he decided to skip the prep season. Blake had seven goals and three assists as a junior and was expected to be a key cog in the lineup.
"There's no denying the fact Jonathan Blake would've helped our team," Chesterton coach Jamie Sensibaugh said. "He made his decision and it worked out for him."
Some teams might have lost steam dealing with a loss like that before the first game, but Chesterton raced off to a 7-2 start.
In the 10th game of the season, junior Billy Biehl sustained multiple facial fractures during a play in the Sept. 16 2-1 win over Andrean. Biehl is the team's best player -- even if Blake was on the roster -- and I believed his loss would spell doom. Biehl had 11 goals and five assists up to that point.
"We just kept firing on all cylinders," Sensibaugh said. "Without (Biehl), we were still a pretty good team."
Pretty good? Chesterton won its next six games by a combined score of 25-3. Thirteen players scored a goal in those contests. Sophomore Trent Weller scored half of his 14 goals during that run, while senior John Ward added four of his 11 total goals. On defense, goalie Caleb Gmyrek had three shutouts.
I was surprised by the results, but Sensibaugh wasn't shocked.
"We just didn't talk much about (what was happening)," he said. "It was more or less, 'Here's the deal and what are we going to do about it'."
Biehl returned to the lineup for last Saturday's sectional, and he scored in the 2-0 win over Portage. Biehl now wears a mask as protection, but Sensibaugh said the junior isn't backing down from contact.
"I thought there would be a concern heading the ball or going for a 50-50 ball," Sensibaugh said. "He's not playing any different."
Amid the celebration, the Trojans had to deal with the loss of another player. David Gutierrez collided with Indians goalie Cody Simmons and suffered a broken leg.
Gutierrez might not be as heralded as either Blake or Biehl, but the often-used substitute was also the team's backup goalie.
It's just another obstacle that Sensibaugh believes this team can overcome.
"The team has learned perseverance, not to give up anything," he said. "I wouldn't be surprised if we go even further."
Chesterton (15-2-1) vs. Munster (10-7-1), 5 p.m.
No. 4 Crown Point (16-0-1) vs. Lake Central (5-9-3), 7 p.m.
Championship, 11 a.m.
Advancement: Winner faces the Mishawaka Regional winner at 11 a.m. Central at the Warsaw Semistate.
Favorite: Crown Point. Darkhorse: Munster.
Players to watch: CHESTERTON -- Billy Biehl, Jr., F; John Ward, Sr., MF; Trent Weller, So., F; Caleb Gmyrek, Sr., GK. CROWN POINT -- Carmelo Morales, Sr., F; Bay Kurtz, Sr., F; Stojan Krsteski, Sr., F; Spase Dorsuleski, Sr., D. LAKE CENTRAL -- Ogi Janjus, Sr., F; Nikko Kolintzas, Fr., F; Chris Baranowski, Fr., F; Jorge Trujillo, Jr., GK. MUNSTER -- Demetri Georgalas, Sr., MF; Peter Panos, Sr., F; Nik Kajmakoski, Jr., F; Dean Svolos, Jr., D.
Fast facts: Every team in this draw has won a regional title with the most recent being Crown Point in 2011, while Lake Central has tallied ten, which is tied for Indiana's third-most all-time with Columbus North.
Wheeler (11-6-2) vs. Andrean (12-7), 5 p.m.
Mishawaka Marian (12-7) vs. Boone Grove (16-2), 7 p.m.
Championship, 6 p.m.
Favorite: Andrean. Darkhorse: Boone Grove
Players to watch: ANDREAN -- Mike Gore, Sr., MF; Dan Adair, Sr., D; Aaron Corder, Sr., D. BOONE GROVE -- Nick Azevedo, Jr., F; Austin Aguilera, Jr., F; Nathan Miller, Jr., GK. WHEELER -- Joey DeSimone, Sr., MF; Cameron Foor, Sr., F; Ben Moricz, Sr., D/MF; Brenden Melvin, Fr., MF.
Fast Facts: Mishawaka Marian has won four regionals with the most recent coming in 2010. Andrean won its lone regional in 1996. Wheeler and Boone Grove have yet to win a regional crown.
-- Compiled by Times Correspondents Paul Honeycutt and Paul Oren
MERRILLVILLE | Never a team to be satisfied, the Crown Point boys soccer team is still trying to work and still trying to get better even in sectional play.
The Bulldogs were looking to practice moving quickly on offense Saturday night, and the Times No. 1 Crown Point did just that, shutting out Kankakee Valley 6-0 to capture the Class 2A Merrillville Sectional crown.
The Bulldogs used six first-half goals, four goals in the first 20 minutes, to jump all over the Kougars. Carmelo Morales and Spase Dorsuleski each scored two goals for Crown Point.
"We wanted to move the ball quickly and create dangerous opportunities," Crown Point coach Mike Bazin said. "Our first-line guys took care of that in the first half, and it allotted for everyone to get in the game."
Morales started the scoring for the Bulldogs (16-0-1) when he was set up by Brad Kurtz for the 1-0 lead just 9:57 into the match.
"We played our game," Morales said. "We played possession, we played one-two touch, tried to get the ball off our feet as best as possible and tried to make the other team do the running."
Dorsuleski added two of the next three Bulldog goals to give Crown Point a 4-0 lead with 20:49 remaining in the first half. Bulldog Bay Kurtz finished with three assists, while Tod Oram and Stojan Krsteski each scored one goal for Crown Point.
"We just came out hard and we came out pressing," Dorsuleski said. "We work as a team and talked. Everyone talked, which was awesome, and in the first half the scoreboard showed it."
Kankakee Valley (8-10) had a tall task ahead of them, attempting to knock off the Bulldogs, and the Kougars were unable to answer Crown Point's offensive firepower.
"They did what we expected them to do; they went at us hard," Kougar coach Jason Vanderwoude said. "We tried to sit back a little bit and play a little heavy on defense to see if we could slow them down, and it was working for about 10 minutes, but then they got some through."
With the win, Crown Point remains undefeated on the season, and the Bulldogs will move on to Thursday's Merrillville Regional, where they will face Lake Central at 7 p.m.
ST. JOHN | Throw out the records in an all-inclusive tournament.
This week in the IHSAA’s 20th annual soccer postseason for both boys and girls, we’ve seen teams who were winless in the regular season advance to a sectional final, while many teams have avenged regular-season losses on their way to the finals and onto next week’s regionals.
So on Saturday night there were two teams with a combined 19 losses fighting for the hardware.
The one with 10 losses was seeking its first sectional title since 2008, fourth overall and first in the class era.
The other was perennial champ Lake Central. The Indians brought a battle-tested 4-9-3 record into the final and walked away with a 2-0 win and their 11th consecutive sectional championship Saturday night.
It was the 16th title in program history for L.C. (5-9-3), which faces Crown Point in the semifinals of the Merrillville Regional on Thursday.
Saturday night’s first goal came in the 50th minute, and anyone close enough to L.C.’s halftime huddle could have predicted who would score it.
“Nikko Kolintzas, a freshman, gave everyone a stare down at halftime,” L.C. coach Jereme Rainwater said. “I’ve known him since he was 10 years old -- him and Chris Baranowski -- and they are special. They were giving everyone else that look that said they didn’t come here
(Saturday) to lose. They’ve been successful on every level, and I have no doubt they will continue to be for four years here.”
Kolintzas’ goal with 30:57 to go was more or less a straight shot past an otherwise efficient Matt Potacki (seven saves) of Griffith. Ogi Janjus provided the other goal on a 62nd-minute header off a throw-in.
“Tactically the guys really came out in the second half and got things done,” Rainwater said.
Janjus is one of just four seniors for the Indians, who outscored opponents 5-1 across two sectional matches.
“We talked to the kids about how we started this season really young,” Rainwater said. “But by the end of the season, you try to make your freshmen into sophomores and your sophomores into juniors and so on. I think they did that. They matured on and off the field.”
While sectional finals throughout the area mostly avoided rain, by virtue of being one of the last sectionals to start Saturday, Lake Central had to endure a wet track.
Neither team got much going as the early-evening showers turned fast break pivots into slips and slides.
Griffith had a well-executed drive in the 35th minute that resulted in a high shot batted out of bounds by L.C. keeper Jorge Trujillo (five saves). L.C. broke up the ensuing corner kick to preserve a 0-0 halftime score.
“All I said at halftime was that the IHSAA is giving us another 40 minutes, and that’s the only guarantee,” Rainwater said. “Then they went out and took it to them and earned us at least another 80 minutes.”
UNION TOWNSHIP | Wheeler fired off 21 shots on Saturday night and a lot of them found the back of the net.
Cameron Foor scored four times for the Bearcats in a 9-1 rout of Washington Township in the championship of the Class A Wheeler Sectional.
The senior forward’s first goal came less than two minutes into the game and his last came less than four minutes into the second half.
“It’s really a stress relief when we get that first goal,” Foor said. “All the momentum really just boosts off that first goal. My mind was cleared and I just played simple-minded: give-and-goes, through balls, just simple soccer.”
Joey DiSimone scored two goals for the Bearcats, both within minutes of a Foor score. Pablo Balcazar, Ben Moricz and Billy Morgan all scored once.
“Considering that we’re going to be losing (10) seniors next year, that’s a big thing to be able to get some guys some varsity time and some confidence, especially in a sectional championship,” head coach Dave Bock said of Balcazar and Morgan. “The other guys that scored, Joey DiSimone and Ben Moricz, have been phenomenal all year in the midfield.
"I think Ben Moricz has kind of been the unsung hero for us most of the time, because he kind of holds back and is the anchor in front of our defense. He’s been great all year and he deserves just as much credit, so it’s nice for him to get a goal, too.”
Washington Township ended Wheeler’s shutout bid midway through the second half on Robert Hartman’s close-range goal. Bearcats keepers Patrick Berg and Ryan Ruane combined for three saves.
Samuel Cubberly made eight saves for the Senators.
Wheeler will play Andrean in the LaVille Regional on Thursday, the second matchup between the schools this year. Andrean won the first meeting.
“We’re going to prepare (to be) really physical,” Foor said. “When we played them, we gave them a good run but just couldn’t pull it together towards the end. We’re just going to practice really hard and see what we can get out of it.”
VALPARAISO | Returning to the field was just the first step for Billy Biehl.
The Chesterton junior took the pitch for the first time since suffering a head injury earlier this season and immediately made his presence felt with a goal to help lead the Trojans to their first sectional title since 2010 with a 2-0 victory over Portage.
Biehl suffered multiple facial fractures against Andrean on Sept. 16 and wore a face mask during Saturday’s Class 2A Valparaiso Sectional championship match.
“I was pretty nervous going out there, not wanting to hit my nose or my cheeks again and lead to something more serious,” Biehl said. “It felt great to be back out there with my teammates, and it was sweet to get this victory.”
Biehl affected the outcome on both goals as he served as a decoy on a set piece that eventually led to Jared O’Dell firing a pass through the Portage defense which John Ward converted into a goal in the 51st minute. Biehl then delivered his goal on a set piece when O’Dell served as the decoy and Biehl fired a shot that found the back corner post in the 74th minute.
“We practiced set pieces throughout the offseason and all year long,” Chesterton coach Jamie Sensibaugh said. “I told the guys that set pieces are what win games in the postseason.”
The game was marked by physical play from the start and play was halted midway through the first quarter when Chesterton’s David Gutierrez collided with Portage keeper Cody Simmons. Gutierrez was stretchered off the field with a broken leg.
“We played the second half for David,” Chesterton keeper Caleb Gmyrek said. “We’re going to visit him in the hospital (Saturday) and bring him the trophy.”
Gmyrek was never tested by the Portage offense Saturday and the senior recorded his 11th shutout of the season, one off the program record for single-season clean sheets. The most energy that Gmyrek exerted all evening was sprinting to midfield to celebrate with the Trojans following the match.
“All the credit has to go to the defense that was in front of me,” he said. “We all played individually better than the guy in front of us. We had the opportunity and we took it.”
DEMOTTE | With about a minute to go, the Andrean boys soccer team’s starters, long after being pulled from the game, gave 24th-year head coach Pete Reist an early bath.
The retiring coach took the ice and water in stride and laughed it off after the 59ers beat Bishop Noll 4-0 for Class A Covenant Christian Sectional championship Saturday afternoon.
“With about five minutes to go I should’ve (known) it’d be coming, but I forgot,” Reist said.
After 28 years as a coach, Reist is not using his pending retirement as motivation.
“The ending’s going to be what it’s going to be,” Reist said. “As coaches we try not to look ahead, but if Lady Luck’s on our side, maybe we’ll play a few more games. I don’t know.”
With wins in eight of its last nine matches, Andrean (12-7) will play in the LaVille Regional semifinals Thursday night. Saturday’s victory was Andrean’s ninth sectional title in boys soccer.
Mike Gore led the way with a hat trick. The 59ers controlled Saturday’s match with Gore netting two first-half goals and a third in the second half. After his hat trick, he ran up and gave a salute, a gesture he used to imply “hats off.”
“I promised a friend I’d do that,” Gore said. “I couldn’t let him down, I guess.”
Gore’s tallies came in the 10th, 21st and 45th minutes. Andrean had the wind in the first half and knew a fast start would demoralize Noll, whom Andrean beat 4-2 in the regular season.
Gore didn’t play the final 10 minutes and instead had time to plot with teammate Dan Adair to dump the ice and water on Reist.
“We knew if we came out fired up and put one away it cause a lot of trouble for them being down early,” Gore said. “We knew how bad they wanted to win and how hard they were going to come at us.”
Frustration set in early for Noll in a particularly chippy game between parochial powers. Noll had to play the final 42:20 down a man after Aaron Garza, coach Armando Garza’s son, picked up his second yellow card.
Garza’s first card was for kicking the ball far out of bounds after a whistle. The other came after some deliberation and lobbying from both teams after Garza and Andrean’s Mike Metlov went up for a high ball at midfield. Officials informed Noll that Garza was given a card for elbowing Metlov in the head.
Adair and Jose Angulo helped Andrean control the middle throughout the day. Then it became a mater of getting Gore the ball and letting him show everyone what he was working with. The senior, one of 18 on the Andrean roster, now has 24 goals on the season and three hat tricks.
Eric Guetzloff had Andrean’s final goal in the 55th minute.
“Our whole plan was that if we got it to Mike Gore for enough chances, eventually good things would happen,” Reist said. “He’s up there for a reason.”
Noll (9-7-1) tearfully said goodbye to six seniors but took solace in the fact that many freshmen saw quality action.
“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Noll coach Armando Garza said. “We had ball movement and everything. We just couldn’t get a shot, and if we did manage one, it wasn’t good.”
Garza didn’t dwell long on the loss of is son via cards. Both teams received two yellow cards in a game rife with shoves and shouting.
“If it’s 1-0, it’s one thing,” Garza said. “Losing 4-0, you know it’s a loss. The guys played hard, but the breaks didn’t go our way.”
MUNSTER | Another year, another sectional.
Sectional host Munster made it an even consecutive dozen in the sectional title count, which is a new all-time state record for boys soccer.
However, the Mustangs didn't get by easy in its 2-1 Class 2A sectional championship tilt against a very game E.C. Central team Saturday afternoon.
Senior forward Peter Panos scored what would be the game-winning goal in the 64th minute after connecting on a shot just outside of the goalie box.
"We were not gonna be the team that broke the streak," Panos said. "Everyone came in two hours early, we just talked about soccer and got focused."
Munster (10-7-1) scored the game's initial goal on a deflection off its first corner kick.
Senior midfielder Demetri Georgalas almost put it in on the corner, but it was knocked out by Cardinals senior keeper Juvenal Enriquez.
However, the deflection went right to Georgalas, who bent one to a diving Nik Kajmakoski, heading it in during the 20th minute.
E.C. Central (12-3-1) missed out on a couple opportunities to tie it in the first half, including in the 34th minute when junior defender Dean Svolos made a diving stop on Cardinals forward Erik Beltran's attempt after Munster junior keeper Emmanuel Soto made a save just a second later.
Three minutes into the second half, the upstart Cardinals were denied on the goal line yet again by a defender, but this time it was by sophomore David Ortega.
Eight minutes later, E.C. Central finally broke through when do-it-all sophomore forward Francisco Torres netted a free kick from 20 yards out after Munster was called for a handball.
According to Cardinals coach Costulo Perez, his program has a lot to look forward to in the next couple of years.
"I love my team because they never gave up," he said. "Any coach would love to have (Francisco Torres) and this team has heart and talent for days. The future is bright."
The Mustangs, who were much more aggressive than in games past, notched 14 shots on goal, which included several near misses.
"We were happy to get more shots on goal and the score didn't reflect that," Munster coach Jim Prasopoulos said.
"This is something special because it hasn't been easy. We've shown a lot of team pride and I don't care who's in our sectional. It's hard to repeat."
BOONE GROVE | Boone Grove boys soccer coach Brian Sherwin wanted his team to control the rush that would come in the first 10 minutes of the Wolves' sectional championship match against Hebron.
Boone Grove did just that.
The Wolves used two first-half goals to win the Class A Boone Grove Sectional 3-0, though one goal would be more than enough, as Boone controlled the ball and tempo of the game from start to finish.
"We definitely wanted to initially win the adrenaline rush in the beginning and get the first goal," Sherwin said. "Hopefully calm a few things down, and we did. We got the goal right away, and I think both teams settled in to the way they wanted to play right after that."
Austin Aguilera scored just 12 minutes into the match, assisted by Brad Kaminisky and at first glance, Aguilera was unaware that he had even scored. Andrew Ooms added a second goal of off a free kick later in the first half.
"I got the ball in the middle and I just shot it," Aguilera said. "At first, I thought I missed, then I heard it hit off the post. We had to just go out there and win. That was just the mindset we had."
Ooms goal came with 11:54 remaining in the first half on the free kick from just outside the right side of the Hebron penalty box.
"I saw the goalie was trying to cheat up so I was trying to bend it to the left," Ooms said. "I just put it right over him, and he missed it. I'm glad we got the 3-0 win. I hope we do good in regionals."
Cameron Varlan added a penalty kick goal just 2:08 into the second half to extend the Boone Grove (16-2) lead to 3-0. Hebron (11-6-1) was unable to open any offense, and the Hawks first shot on goal did not come until nine minutes remained in the match. Hebron keeper Zachary Porter finished with six saves.
"The boys didn't pick it up in the first 10 minutes very well," Hebron coach Zeljko Mijatovic said. "I'm happy with the season. I'm happy with Hebron coming to this point in time and making the finals of the sectional. We are only losing three seniors, so we will be looking for more next year."
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