They did just that.
But the No. 2 Tigers took advantage of just enough opportunities to earn a tough 2-1 win over the No. 14 Barons in the Class 2-A Warsaw Semistate.
Warsaw upped its season mark to 19-1-2 on the field and earned a spot in the semi state title game Saturday evening at 7 p.m. versus Hamilton Southeastern (12-7-3). The Royals blanked No. 7 Valparaiso 2-0 in Saturday’s first semifinal contest. The Vikings finish at 18-3.
The Tigers, making their fifth straight semi state appearance, looked the part of a veteran postseason squad early on. The hosts had a great scoring chance just 90 seconds into the match as a shot caromed off the crossbar. Warsaw then took a 1-0 lead on a rebound outback score by Grant Allbritten, only to see the goal wiped out by an offsides call earlier in the play.
Warsaw broke the ice with 18:29 to play in the opening half on a persistent attack. Diego Lopez created the chance with a nifty move into the box and a shot attempt. As the ball came free in a host of players in front of the net, Grant Allbritten blasted a clean look home for a 1-0 lead.
“We deserved that one,” said Bauer. “We had a lot of guys in the box and they were hungry for that one.
“If we had finished a few more opportunities, we could have made it easier on ourselves. I was worried that the opportunities would dry up in the second half and they did.”
The Tigers made it 2-0 as Nate Kolbe, the team’s top goal scorer, drilled one in left-footed. The senior hit his with 15:53 to play and then celebrated with a flip.DeKalb, which finishes 18-3, turned up the pressure in the final 10 minutes. The Barons, who had won 10 in a row, cut the lead in half at 2-1 as junior Landon Cochran got a shot from point-blank range that hit off Tiger keeper Michael Yantz and trickled into the goal.
The Barons, playing in their first-ever semi state, made a big time attempt to tie the game with just over four minutes left. Yantz was equal to the task as the standout goalie snared a high liner to keep the Tigers in the lead.
“I thought we lost our composure near the end, but we got a test in that last 10 minutes that we needed,” Bauer said. “I like how Nate turned the corner today and attacked in the box and the fact that Michael was composed in goal and Gustavo (Rodriguez) was composed in the back for us.
“We should be the favorite Saturday night, but I expect it to be a good game of possession. It’s about who finishes. I believe we have the players to get it done. Valparaiso was a more dangerous team and Hamilton Southeastern is a better possession team.”
Warsaw, whose official record is now 13-8-1 due to several forfeits, has now outscored its 22 opponents 64-10 this season.
The Tigers outshot the Barons 10-8 and Yantz had seven saves in goal in another strong effort for Warsaw.