ST. JOHN | Griffith needed some motivation in the sectional opener Wednesday.
A flurry of offside calls and poor shots provided sufficient frustration to jump-start the Panthers, as they won the Lake Central Sectional opener 3-1 over Gavit.
"We had control for the majority of the game, but our kids kind of played down for the first 20 minutes. But that's par for the course," Griffith coach Ron Knestrict said. "We just moved a couple kids around and started going a little harder at the corners."
"We had a little bit more energy for the last 20 minutes (of the first half)."
The Panthers will face host Lake Central in the sectional final at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Indians topped Highland 1-0 in the nightcap.
Griffith (5-10) didn't score early on, but it kept the ball on the Gavit side of the pitch. The Panthers finally broke through when David Schell scored on Mike Alvarez's assist at 24:09.
Noah Duvnjak added to that lead with a goal at 36:08 and George Hudiczius tallied one with 1:05 left in the first half.
"We had a lot more opportunities and we just couldn't capitalize on them," Knestrict said. "We have the ability to play down against some teams."
Alan Diaz-Aguirre notched the lone for the Gladiators (1-8) at 78:30. Juan Munoz made seven saves for Gavit.
In the second game, Ogi Janjus broke a scoreless second game with a goal at 70:40 to push Lake Central past Highland. Janjus said he thought a Highland defender touched the ball with his hand but he played on, anyway.
"I was worried about the (penalty kick) but then it fell right to me," Janjus said. "I cut it with my left and shot it with my right.
"It felt great, a long time coming."
The Indians (4-9-3) just hung around, despite the Trojans controlling possession for most of the match.
"Discipline. Discipline," coach Jereme Rainwater said. "The kids stayed with the system and believed that it was going to work and it ended up turning out our way."
Highland junior Jordan O'Day headed one into the nylon barely two minutes into the second half, but he was ruled offside. A huddle of Trojans didn't see the flag go up and celebrated as the goal was called back.
Highland had several chances in the second half, but Jorge Trujillo made several acrobatic saves, diving left and right to keep the Indians alive. Trujillo finished with seven saves.
"It's 0-0. That's your record when you come into the postseason," Rainwater said. "We found a way to win tonight against a really good Highland opponent."