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.”