CROWN POINT | With two seconds left in the first half on the soccer pitch on Thursday night, Crown Point senior Dan Relinski took a rebound off the post and pushed a shot past Hanover Central keeper Andrew Utz as time expired.
It was that kind of night for the big boys at the IHSAA Boys Soccer Crown Point Sectional.
The Bulldogs held off the pesky Wildcats 6-3, advancing to face Lake Central in the sectional championship on Saturday morning. The Indians scored eight second half goals on their way to a 10-0 victory over Boone Grove.
"Saturday is going to be an exciting game," Crown Point coach J.R. Rosenbaum said. "We played Monday night and I thought it was a great game. Both teams have expectations of going far in the postseason."
Relinski and Nico Garcia Vicente added two goals apiece for the Bulldogs while Aquid Bernand had two helpers. Crown Point opened up a 6-0 lead early in the second half before Hanover Central scored three straight goals, including back-to-back tallies from senior Shawn Krager, the son of Hanover Central coach Steve Krager.
"We just wanted to get some pride and compete on the field tonight," Shawn said. "I'm proud of the younger guys. They did a heck of a job and they made some strides tonight and came together to send the seniors off."
The loss was especially difficult for Steve Krager, who took the sidelines for the final time as Hanover Central's head coach.
"Just a little bittersweet tonight," Steve said. "I'm very proud of the way the guys came out in the second half. We played with a different energy."
In the first contest of the night, the Indians scored twice in the first half, but came out of the break on fire, scoring two goals within the first nine minutes of the second half. Leading 4-0, Lake Central senior David Picioski scored three goals over the next eight minutes before reserves took over for the last 20 minutes of the match.
"Three goals in 10 minutes, I've never done anything like that before," Picioski said. "The shots were good and we played through. It was a good night."
The loss ends the season for Boone Grove and Hanover Central, two teams that will likely never have to face Duneland Athletic Conference teams again in the postseason. The IHSAA voted in May to split soccer into two classes for the postseason, although the dividing line for schools has yet to be determined.
"I like the idea of a class system, but I also like the idea of an underdog beating a Lake Central," Boone Grove coach Brian Sherwin said. "I welcome the class system and am interested to see what we can do. It's fun preparing to try and beat a Lake Central, but we'd like to be able to move on as well."