MERRILLVILLE | As the boys soccer sectionals rapidly approach, Times No. 2 Lake Central resides in a position with which it has become very familiar -- sitting atop the Duneland Athletic Conference.
With a 6-1 win over Merrillville on Wednesday, the Indians clinched a share of the DAC with Chesterton, accomplishing a goal coach Jereme Rainwater had set in place prior to the season.
"The boys knew coming in that they kind of held their own destiny, as far as if they win they get a share of that Duneland," he said. "You set two goals before the season. You set that DAC goal and that goal for sectionals, to continue to improve for that. We were able to achieve our first goal today, being a part of that DAC championship. We're excited for that."
Paul Junokas got the Indians (12-1-2, 6-1) on the board early, lightly redirecting a kick past goalkeeper Bradley Brack to take a 1-0 lead with 20:34 left in the first half.
Chris Rassel, Josh Crague and Troy Cherven rounded out Lake Central's scoring with goals in the second half, putting the game out of reach for the Pirates after Merrillville's Emmanuel Calvillo had previously cut the lead 3-1 on a goal with 27:17 left in the game.
In total, six L.C. players scored goals, once again displaying the incredible balance the Indians have had all season. On a sloppy field, both teams sometimes had trouble moving the ball.
"You hate to critique too much on a field like this, but we'll remind the kids that some of the movement off the ball has to be a little better," Rainwater said.
For a young team like the Pirates (2-11-3, 0-7), there is no better test than Lake Central. Merrillville coach Brian Past was pleased with his inexperienced team's effort.
"The first 20 minutes, I thought we played well," he said. "We had a great defensive effort. We had a couple cracks that L.C. found and put some goals in. That third goal was kind of the killer."