SOUTH BEND – The shot came like a dagger with 2:16 left on the clock.
For nearly 78 minutes, Leo and St. Joseph had remained in a scoreless deadlock on the Indians' soaked home field in the Class 2A boys soccer semistate match on a rainy Saturday afternoon. But just when overtime was beginning to look inevitable, Kyle Smith of St. Joseph took control of the ball approximately 30 yards out from the goal and took aim like a lazer. Leo goalkeeper Jaden Moreland fell to the ground as he realized the shot has passed by him, and remained there, face hidden in his hands.
"It's rough, it's rough," Leo coach Trevor Peaslee said of his team's elimination. "But at the end of the day, they had a great season. We enjoyed getting here every bit of the way. Obviously not the result we wanted."
That one goal is all the Indians (14-6-2) would need to end Leo's season. The Lions (16-3-1) had several scoring chances earlier in the game, including an apparent goal off a corner kick in the first half that was called off when the refs ruled that the ball had bounced off the football goalpost above before ending up in the soccer net.
The Lions also survived several other close calls, inlcuding a moment in the first half when Caleb Masters cleared a ball after the St. Joe's player had already gotten past Moreland, and a clutch save by Moreland with just over 10 minutes remaining.
"They played their game and they played it well, and in the end that was the difference," Peaslee said of St. Joseph. "I think we were, for the most part, pretty hard to break down until the end when we started pushing and the game really opened up. The last 20 minutes, it was who wanted it more, who had the most grit. Unfortunately, we had our chance, they had theirs. They finished theirs and we didn't."
Panthers season ends at semistate
For Class A Lakewood Park Christian, the playoff push ended with a 2-0 loss to Argos in the first semistate match of the day.
“I’m proud of the guys digging to the very end; if one of those could have gone in late in the game, it would’ve been interesting to see how the last 10 minutes would’ve been played,” Panthers coach Daron White said.
The score was scoreless at halftime, and though both teams had a few scoring chances, Panthers goalkeeper Josh Pike regularly dashed out from the net and into traffic to grab loose balls. Around 15 minutes into the second half, Pike got hit and fell to the turf while going after the ball. After several minutes of delay, he got back up and remained in goal.
In the 58th minute, Argos’ Sam Manikowski fed the ball to Teddy Redinger, who had gotten just ahead of the Panthers defense. One-on-one with Pike, Redinger powered the shot past the senior keeper to put the Dragons (17-4) up 1-0.
Redinger and Co. cost the Panthers (17-3-1) again with 7:44 to go in the match. Pike came out of the goal to challenge Redinger in front of the net, but the sophomore headed the ball forward to his teammate Mike Richard, who sent a left-footed shot around the defender marking him and straight into the empty net to put the Dragons up by two goals.
“Both of the goals that they scored, it just takes one miscue, you saw that,” White said. “The ball skips in. They got a touch and finished well.”