CROWN POINT | It took a while, and it may have been frustrating, but Times No. 1 Crown Point finally pushed through a tough Merrillville defense to come out with a 2-0 win Wednesday.
"We had a lot of opportunities and I told them at half that we were playing a great game, you've just got to finish,” Crown Point coach Mike Bazin said. "When it comes down to it, that's how you're measured."
C.P. (12-0-1, 6-0 Duneland Athletic Conference) clinches at least a share of the DAC championship with the victory. Bazin said it was important that his team make up for last year, when it came just short of a conference title.
"We really want to get the outright win this year," Bazin said. "We've just got to tie it up next week against Michigan City."
Bay Kurtz finally broke through with a goal in the 38th minute. Kurtz played a pretty give-and-go in the box with Carmelo Morales to beat keeper Bradley Brack low and right. Kurtz saw something in the defense and made a gesture to Morales, who knew exactly what to do.
"The defense was dropped back for the whole game, I think their game plan maybe was to pack it in a little bit. The only way we were going to find (a goal) was to check to, pull the defense out and find the spaces," Kurtz said. "(Morales) slid it in and we scored. It was a good ball."
"It was almost unfortunate that that goal came right at the end of the first half because you kind of get deflated, almost," Bazin added. "Obviously, we would've like it earlier, but Merrillville played a stellar game."
Kurtz picked up an assist in the second half when his corner found the head of Erik Eksten, and the lanky junior put it into the back of the net.
"I think once we started getting our shots on, even though we came up with only two goals, we were good," Kurtz said. "When other teams show up to play, it only pushes us to play harder."
Brack was the biggest reason the match was scoreless for most of the first half. He had several dazzling saves, finishing with 12 total.
"I'm so proud of our guys. We were going up against a top-five team in the state and they are every bit as good as any team in the state right now," Merrillville coach Brian Past said. "I can't say enough about our defense and the way they stepped up."