ST. JOHN | No matter what accolades Lake Central coach Jereme Rainwater has earned throughout his career, each one of them always holds a special place.
That includes Saturday night's 3-0 shutout of Highland in the Class 2A Lake Central Sectional championship, in which the Indians played extremely focused defensively.
"It was great," Lake Central defender Chris Rassel said of shutting out the Trojans. "We were up 1-0 and we knew we had to keep our composure. Everybody was playing great as a team. When we got up 3-0, that was a weight off our shoulders."
The win is Lake Central's ninth consecutive sectional championship, and the Indians will move on to Thursday's Merrillville Regional.
Lake Central mounted threats from the outset, finding the net in the 18th minute when Bryan Perez connected off a feed from Josh Crague to go up 1-0.
Leading 1-0 for more than 30 minutes, Lake Central (15-1-3) finally got a much-welcomed insurance goal when Crague eluded the Highland defense and found the net with 26:31 left in the game.
"We were able to get Josh in and Josh was able to win that ball," Rainwater said. "That keeper (Highland's Mike Anderson) -- you can always tell the quality of a player when you have to change the way you play because of him. I think he was the most talked about player at Lake Central's soccer practices for the past two days."
Kyle Uzubell then iced the game with a goal less than two minutes later, effectively negating any hopes of a Highland comeback.
"I thought we kept up with them in the first half," Highland coach Mirko Maric said. "It just came down to marking, but you've got to give (L.C.) credit. They move well as a team. A lot of these kids play year round."
Highland (10-7-1) will graduate Anderson, along with eight more seniors.
"If we were in it 1-0, you never know," Maric said. "We gave it a good run. It was a good last part of the year. It was like this all year long. We would always be in games, but I guess it's just not meant to be."