WARSAW – Sometimes the ball just does not bounce your way.
The game of soccer can be very cruel in that regard.
Warsaw found that out the hard way in a semi state semifinal tussle with Crown Point Saturday.
The No. 4 Bulldogs got a late goal from Bay Kurtz, as he bounced the ball over the head of Warsaw keeper Peyton Long, to sideline the No. 9 Tigers 1-0 in Class 2-A action.
Kurtz, one of seven seniors for the Bulldogs, took a long bouncing pass and settled it in front of two Warsaw defenders and then calmly bounced it into the net with 6:27 to play.
Crown Point, which defeated Warsaw 1-0 (5-3 pk’s) in the semi state title game in 2011, improved to 19-0-1 and advanced to play Fort Wayne Canterbury Saturday night for the semi state championship.
Canterbury, the Class 1-A state champion each of the last two years and owners of a state record tying five state titles overall, topped Marion 5-2 in the first semifinal Saturday. The Cavaliers took a 14-7-1 record into the title match Saturday night, while Marion finished at 16-4.
The Bulldogs defeated Canterbury 2-1 Saturday night in the semi state final. Crown Point (20-0-1) will face No. 2 Avon (22-0-1) next Saturday in the Class 2-A state championship match at 6 p.m. at IUPUI. Avon topped No. 1 and defending state champion Columbus North 3-2 and No. 3 Evansville Memorial 2-1 Saturday to win the Evansville Harrison Semistate title.
Kurtz’s game winner may have been a bit unlucky for the Tigers, who were state runner-up in 2012, but Crown Point deserved the tough win. The Bulldogs, who have outscored their five foes in the state tourney by a 20-1 count, outplayed Warsaw in the final half.
“We let the ball bounce when we shouldn’t have and No. 8 is their best player and he made the play,” said Warsaw coach Scott Bauer. “It comes down to the smallest details at this level and we did not execute in certain phases of the game today.
“I thought my defense got a little sketchy as the game wore on. Each team neutralized the other and I thought it would come down to set pieces. We played well and had a couple of chances, but just did not have anyone in the right place at the right time to convert on our chances.”
Warsaw, which finishes at 14-3-5, had its best two scoring chances in a flurry just over midway through the opening half. The Tigers, playing with a wind at 20-30 miles per hour, had back-to-back corner kicks by Tito Cuellar with about 17 minutes to play, but failed to convert.
The Bulldogs, who entered the game only having allowed eight goals all season, dominated the final half. Crown Point had three strong scoring chances in a five-minute span late in the game only to miss on all of them. Warsaw’s Matt Williams denied the first opportunity with a diving kick save to clear a ball headed towards the goal.
“I think my guys wanted it today, but I also think that with Crown Point coming in here undefeated that they thought if they let this one go that their season would not be complete,” said Bauer.
Crown Point had 14 shots, including six on goal in the match. Warsaw managed just four shots, with two of those on goal. The Bulldogs had five corners to four for the Tigers.
Bauer praised the work of his team that won the program’s sixth straight sectional and regional championships. The Tigers lost nine seniors from last year’s team that lost 1-0 to Columbus North in the state title tilt, including top two scorers Nate Kolbe and Diego Lopez and star keeper Michael Yantz.
“I’m proud of the boys,” said Bauer. “We had a mediocre regular season by our standards. But, I’m proud of their postseason run and how they won the sectional and the regional. It’s a great group. A fun group that played with a lot of heart.”
The Tigers lose nine seniors agains this season in Bryce Smith, Zach Tucker, Juan Sanchez, Luis Duenas, Matt Williams, Miguel Rivera, Chris Hastings, Alex Climaco and Stephen Kolbe. Five of those seniors in Tucker, Williams, Rivera, Climaco and Kolbe started on Saturday.
Tucker led Warsaw in goals this season with 11. Junior Tito Cuellar had 10, including the winner in a 1-0 win over Northridge in the regional final and a total of six in the state tournament. Junior Sam Allbritten scored nine goals.