MERRILLVILLE | Valparaiso goalkeeper Ethan Lehnen simply wanted to duplicate his heroic effort Saturday.
Lehnen came through once again in a high-pressure situation, saving two of Lake Central's three penalty kick shots, and the Vikings defeated the Indians 1-1, 4-1 on penalty kicks to win the Merrillville Regional championship.
Valparaiso (18-2) will advance to the Warsaw Semistate, playing in the first match at 9 a.m. on Oct. 20.
"All you can do is give it your best bet, dive and make a play and see what happens," Lehnen said of the saves he made. "This is better than anything I've ever experienced. This is by far my best sports memory, these past two games."
Lehnen also came through in the penalty kick session Thursday against Munster, saving three of the Mustangs' shots.
"We practice it every day, because you never know what's going to happen," Lehnen said.
The Vikings looked primed to take a 1-0 win, which would have been their seventh 1-0 decision this season, but Lake Central clawed back.
The Indians got a goal from David Reed with just 2:07 remaining in regulation off a free kick from Ulises Hernandez. During the last few minutes, Lake Central attacked the Vikings with more intensity than they had displayed all game.
"They persevered," Valpo coach Danny Jeftich said of his team. "I'm happy for my guys, especially the seniors. Since June 1, we've been training hard every day. I have three sons, and I treat these guys just like them."
Prior to the L.C. goal, Valparaiso's Brendan Suthlerland connected off a feed from John Christodoulakis, ending nearly a 65-minute stalemate to put Valpo up 1-0.
The Indians (8-12-1) had plenty of opportunities for goals throughout the game, but cold and wet conditions didn't help matters. Lake Central coach Jereme Rainwater was still impressed with his team's effort regardless of the outcome.
"At the beginning of the season, there were a lot of people that doubted where we were at," he said. "We knew we had a young team that was looking to build into the postseason, and they did it. They took a team that was 17-2 all the way to a shootout."
Lehnen made five saves prior to the shootout, while Lake Central's Joey Majchrowicz had seven saves.