RENSSELAER | Hanover Central's boys soccer team made more program history Wednesday.
Two days after winning its first postseason contest, the Wildcats advanced to their first championship with a 1-0 Class A sectional semifinal win over host Rensselaer.
"We've been working hard all season, and we've been putting it together," senior goalkeeper Tyler Iliovici said. "We're really getting some success out of it."
Hanover's win sets up a rematch against Wheeler in Saturday's 11 a.m. title match. The Wildcats (12-5) lost 1-0 to the Bearcats earlier in the season.
"It will be a tough game, but I think we can pull through," said Iliovici, who made 15 saves. "If we play with a lot of heart, we got this."
Hanover scored the only goal it would need when freshman striker Alec Nirtaut found the net on a cross from Andrew Utz at 33:24.
Despite the 1-0 halftime lead, Hanover coach Dan Grunewald wasn't pleased with the total team effort.
"Tyler did a good job of taking charge of halftime and talking to everybody," Grunewald said.
Hanover played better defense in the first half, limiting the Bombers to just four shots on goal after giving up 11 in the first 40 minutes. Iliovici did a good job of directing the traffic in front of him.
"I try and help them out as much as possible," he said. "They do most of the work out there."
Iliovici also was dominant inside the box, stopping or kicking away scoring chances.
"He's a pretty good goalie," Rensselaer coach Chip Gull said. "We put some shots right on him. Against some of the teams we played, a lot of those would've went in. He's a strong kid and an athletic kid."
Rensselaer finished 5-11, but Gull was pleased with the team's progress after an 0-7 start.
"That's a very much improved team," he said. "Our passing – a fundamental part of the game – has gotten so much better. Our defensive intensity has improved tremendously."