GRIFFITH — Griffith and Bishop Noll earned their spots in the Griffith boys soccer Class 2A sectional championship in two vastly different ways Wednesday.
The Panthers absolutely dominated en route to a 15-1 opening semifinal victory before the Warriors scrapped to a 3-1 win against Clark. The finals matchup will be a rematch of a 4-2 Bishop Noll winner against Griffith from Sept. 11.
“This is something they’ve been working for all season. I believe any team was,” said Quinn Cloghessy, who acted as Noll head coach in place of Armando Garza, who was out of town. “Leaving sectionals early last year put a sour taste in our mouths, and this is the result. I’m proud of them.”
Griffith coach Castulo Perez admitted there’s only so much he could take away from a 13-goal victory but said he was pleased with how his guys looked on the field. He made not playing the scoreboard and focusing on making the right passes, shots and defensive maneuvers a priority.
“I was happy with how the guys were able to do during the game for what it was,” Perez said. “We touched the ball well, moved it well. It wasn’t the most competitive game, as the score shows, but my guys are going to go into Saturday ready to go and fresh.”
Bishop Noll broke through with a pair of unanswered scores in the final 10 minutes of the first half in what was otherwise a nearly even match against Clark throughout. Freshman Jaime Hernandez scored the first goal in the 30th minute and was followed up by fellow freshman Bruno Zamora’s score in the 36th minute.
Clark freshman David Garcia answered with a 54th-minute score off a rebound in front of the net to rejuvenate the Pioneers’ bench. The score came amid a frenzied, physical stretch of play where blows were exchanged on both sides.
Noll freshman Jacob Wichlinski scored what proved to be a dagger with just under 20 minutes left in transition to put the game out of reach.
“That third one was just a big sigh of relief for the players, the staff and just everyone on that bench,” Cloghessy said.
Griffith built a 6-0 advantage just nine minutes into the game and was able to empty its entire bench for about half the remainder of the match. Ten different Panthers wound up scoring at least once.
Junior Will Carroll led the charge with four goals in the match to push his season total to single-season school record 30 with at least one game still left to be played. Three scores came between the fifth and seventh minutes alone before the fourth and final came five minutes into the second half.
Carroll said he was unaware of the record but that he was especially proud of the accomplishment because the team win came with it. He credited his teammates for setting him up for scores all season long in front of the net.
“My team always finds me when I’m near the goal,” he said. “This is something I’ve always dreamed about just scoring as many goals as I can in a season.”
Gavit sophomore Isaiah Daggett scored his team’s lone goal in the 37th minute off an assist from freshman Angel Gaitan. Senior goalkeeper Marc Charles picked up seven saves in his final game between the pipes.
“We’re there. We made it to Saturday,” Perez said. “Any time you can make it to a championship game is exciting for all of us.”