ST. JOHN | Throw out the records in an all-inclusive tournament.
This week in the IHSAA’s 20th annual soccer postseason for both boys and girls, we’ve seen teams who were winless in the regular season advance to a sectional final, while many teams have avenged regular-season losses on their way to the finals and onto next week’s regionals.
So on Saturday night there were two teams with a combined 19 losses fighting for the hardware.
The one with 10 losses was seeking its first sectional title since 2008, fourth overall and first in the class era.
The other was perennial champ Lake Central. The Indians brought a battle-tested 4-9-3 record into the final and walked away with a 2-0 win and their 11th consecutive sectional championship Saturday night.
It was the 16th title in program history for L.C. (5-9-3), which faces Crown Point in the semifinals of the Merrillville Regional on Thursday.
Saturday night’s first goal came in the 50th minute, and anyone close enough to L.C.’s halftime huddle could have predicted who would score it.
“Nikko Kolintzas, a freshman, gave everyone a stare down at halftime,” L.C. coach Jereme Rainwater said. “I’ve known him since he was 10 years old -- him and Chris Baranowski -- and they are special. They were giving everyone else that look that said they didn’t come here
(Saturday) to lose. They’ve been successful on every level, and I have no doubt they will continue to be for four years here.”
Kolintzas’ goal with 30:57 to go was more or less a straight shot past an otherwise efficient Matt Potacki (seven saves) of Griffith. Ogi Janjus provided the other goal on a 62nd-minute header off a throw-in.
“Tactically the guys really came out in the second half and got things done,” Rainwater said.
Janjus is one of just four seniors for the Indians, who outscored opponents 5-1 across two sectional matches.
“We talked to the kids about how we started this season really young,” Rainwater said. “But by the end of the season, you try to make your freshmen into sophomores and your sophomores into juniors and so on. I think they did that. They matured on and off the field.”
While sectional finals throughout the area mostly avoided rain, by virtue of being one of the last sectionals to start Saturday, Lake Central had to endure a wet track.
Neither team got much going as the early-evening showers turned fast break pivots into slips and slides.
Griffith had a well-executed drive in the 35th minute that resulted in a high shot batted out of bounds by L.C. keeper Jorge Trujillo (five saves). L.C. broke up the ensuing corner kick to preserve a 0-0 halftime score.
“All I said at halftime was that the IHSAA is giving us another 40 minutes, and that’s the only guarantee,” Rainwater said. “Then they went out and took it to them and earned us at least another 80 minutes.”