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The Journal Gazette

  • Doug McSchooler | For The Journal-Gazette Canterbury players celebrate their win over Covenant Christian on Friday to capture the Class A boys soccer state championship on the campus of Butler University. “We wanted to leave a dynasty,” senior Ben Kunce said. “We wanted to leave a mark on this school.”

Saturday, October 28, 2017 1:00 am

Canterbury 2 Covenant Christian 1

Cavaliers add 6th boys soccer crown

Topple top-ranked team for 1st state title since 2012

AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – The Canterbury boys soccer team will need new jerseys next season to add the state-record sixth star above the school crest.

The No. 3 Cavaliers defeated No. 1 Covenant Christian 2-1 in the IHSAA Class A boys soccer state championship game at the Bud and Jackie Sellick Bowl at Butler on Friday for its first title since 2012.

“We wanted to leave a dynasty,” said senior Ben Kunce, who led the team with seven shots, five on goal, and one assist. “We wanted to leave a mark on this school and we knew what it took to do that and tonight we came out and accomplished that goal.”

The team's nine seniors were in seventh grade the last time the program won a state title. After spending some time up in 2A due to the tournament success factor, the Cavaliers (13-6-3) moved back down to the lower class when the IHSAA implemented a three-class system for soccer this year.

The team maintained a difficult schedule despite the lower class for the postseason tournament.

“These guys have stuck with it,” coach Greg Mauch said. “We've had some rough times. Last year, we weren't even .500, and this year, we were going through different things. Everything we've asked them to do, they've done. They've tried everything, and they've never stopped working and never complained about anything. It's been fantastic.”

All of the program's state titles have been won under Mauch, who now is the sole owner of the state record for the most titles won by a single coach.

While he said all the titles have been exciting, he attributes this year's title toward the senior class.

“It feels great because these guys get it done,” he said. “They're a wonderful group to work with. It's always exciting, but it's especially exciting for these guys. It's been a long, hard haul for them over the last four years. They've hung with it, they've believed and they've done everything we could ask of them. I couldn't be more proud of them.”

The teams were tied at 1 for much of the second half with neither side conceding much. Then, in the 76th minute, Michael Clark scored the go-ahead goal, following a shot from Kunce that was deflected off the goalkeeper.

“We worked on framing up all year, which is when the ball is shot and gets deflected off the keeper, we have to finish it and that's what I did,” Clark said. “It was just like I did in practice, and it won the game.

“I can confidently say (Covenant Christian) was the best team we've played all tournament. They're an organized team and did very well on the ball and off the ball. They were very difficult.”

In the first half, the Cavaliers scored in the 15th minute when Kunce put a free kick into the six-yard box. As the Warriors' goalkeeper Jacob Susud and his defenders failed to clear, the ball bounced around in front of the goal before Jonathan Bowen finally put it in the back of the net.

The Warriors (16-5-1) finally broke through with less than two minutes left in the half when Braden Havics collected a loose ball fed into the box by JP David that the Canterbury defense failed to clear.

“We didn't know a lot about (the Warriors) going in, and, boy, they showed us more than I cared to see,” Mauch said. “They were well-organized, they were hard, they were quick, they were clever with the ball, they're a well-coached team. I can't say enough about them.

“We thought we could do some stuff on restarts against this team and we ended up being able to.”

When the clock hit zeros, there was a sense of relief that a five-year state title drought was over.

“There's a pressure of sorts because of Canterbury's legacy and the history,” Clark said. “It feels so good to do this. We've been working for this for four years.”

areichel@jg.net