ST. JOHN | Highland coach Mirko Maric was so fired up at halftime, his voice became hoarse and he could barely speak in the postgame huddle.
He wasn't hesitant to express his disappointment in his team's first-half effort, but the Trojans rebounded for a 2-0 victory over Griffith in the opening game of the Class 2A Lake Central Sectional.
"I chewed them out and lost my voice at halftime," Maric said. "In the first half, there was no energy. We came out flat, and missing two easy goals didn't help us. I told them we've got to pick it up. It was a matter of us just stepping up a little bit and getting it done in the second half."
Highland (10-6-1) couldn't get anything going on offense until Connor Moynihan found the net with 26:10 remaining in the game. Joe Mastej then connected on a header to cap the largely defensive match.
"It's always a battle with Griffith," Maric said. "It's a big rivalry and you could see it was a bit physical at times."
Griffith (8-9) hung around, but just couldn't muster enough offensice threats.
"I thought we played defense pretty well in both halves," Knestrict said. "In the second half, we tried opening up a little bit to try and get some goal scoring opportunities. Unfortunately, it didn't work as well as we liked."
In the second game, host Lake Central routed Gavit 10-0 and will face Highland at 7 p.m. Saturday in the championship.
"We were able to move the ball and limit our touches in the middle of the field," L.C. coach Jereme Rainwater said. "We were working on trying to do the right things as opposed to getting into any kind of bad habits."
The Indians (14-1-3) edged the Trojans 1-0 on a Randy Maksimik penalty kick earlier this season.
"Highland is a good program," Rainwater said. "You look at the few losses they have had, they've all been really close games. It just goes to show you that Mirko always has them ready to play."