MERRILLVILLE | Crown Point's Scott Garcia found the opportune time to record his second goal of the season.
Garcia broke a 0-0 tie when his shot deflected off the left bar and into the net help lead the Times No. 1 Bulldogs to a 5-0 win over Merrillville at the Class 2A Merrillville Sectional semifinals. The host Pirates had played the Bulldogs to a stalemate through the first 20 minutes, but Garcia's goal opened the floodgates and Crown Point tallied three goals in the final 16 minutes of the first half.
Crown Point will play Kankakee Valley, a 6-3 winner over Lowell, in the championship game Saturday.
“It felt good to score for my team,” Garcia said. “It's going to be hard games the rest of the way. No one is going to want to lose, and we're going to have to keep stepping up."
After a 2-0 match with the Pirates earlier in the season, Crown Point coach Mike Bazin knew Merrillville would be ready for his heavily favored squad.
“They'd seen us in play before and they played us well,” Bazin said. “Our kids came out with a lot of confidence and a lot of patience. We kept our patience and the goals eventually came.”
After Garcia's goal, the Bulldogs scored two goals on corner kicks in the first half. Erik Eksten made the match 2-0 with his header off of a Bay Kurtz's corner. Spase Dorsuleski then added a goal off of a Brad Kurtz corner to make it 3-0 by halftime.
Despite the five goals, Merrillville keeper Bradley Brack recorded seven saves.
“You lose five-to-nothing you don't always look at the goal keeper,” Pirates coach Brian Past said. “He's done a fantastic job. I'm extremely proud of this team. Our record is not indicative of what type of team we were.”
Bazin is looking for the Bulldogs to continue to take care of business in Saturday's 6 p.m. sectional championship.
"We just want to take care of business," Bazin said. "Come playoff time, anything can happen at any time. Strange things happen come playoff time."
In the second semifinal, Kankakee Valley was able to control their match against the Red Devils to advance to the final. Colin Fritts and Tyler Montgomery each had two goals for Kankakee Valley in the win. Lowell's Noah Newcomb recorded the hat trick for the Red Devils in the loss.