HIGHLAND | If Highland goal keeper Sam Kerber could punt a football as far as she can a soccer ball, she'd make quite the living in the NFL.
The senior girls soccer player had a rare assist on Highland's first and only goal of the first half to help lead her team to a 2-1 win over Griffith in the first semifinal of the Highland Sectional on Thursday night.
In the late game, Lake Central stomped Gavit 10-0 when eight players scored at least one goal each.
After recording her second save, Kerber booted the ball 50 yards on a goal kick, when it took a friendly Highland bounce of 15 yards. That lured Griffith goalie Amy Bubala out of the box, and senior forward Michelle Geissler took advantage of the unattended goal to score.
"Is that what happened?" a surprised Highland coach Gordon Walker asked. "Hey, I'm happy that's how it went in. Griffith put us under a lot of pressure, but we dealt with it fine."
The Panthers (11-5) responded with their first goal from junior midfielder Caitlin Brown when she scored on the rebound of a Kerber save.
The Trojans (12-3-1) came back with the go-ahead goal 17 minutes later when junior midfielder Tiffany Fordyce capitalized on a free kick from Kate Walker that directed Bubala out of the goal and Fordyce drove it past her.
"After their goal, it finally started to sink in to our seniors," Walker said. "Am I happy with our performance? No. But at least we got the win against a good Griffith team."
The Panthers almost tied it with 1:35 left when Krystal Mendoza beat the defense and was one-on-one with Kerber. The Mendoza shot landed just to the right of the post.
"It had to be a perfectly-placed ball because Kerber was in a good spot," Griffith coach Wally Kudyba said. "You gotta give Highland thumbs up because they defended well."
Lake Central scored three goals in the first 10 minutes against Gavit.
L.C. held the Gladiators to one shot on goal and junior Lauren Doreski and freshman Jillian Doan scored two goals apiece.