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.