Both of Rensselaer Central’s soccer teams will be competing for sectional titles on Saturday.
The boys’ team barely got by a gritty Benton Central squad, 2-1, Wednesday night to punch its ticket to the championship game. The Bombers will face No. 1 ranked West Lafayette (14-1-2) in Saturday’s final at 1 p.m., CST.
The Lady Bombers, meanwhile, won their fourth straight game on Thursday, Oct. 7, beating Illiana Christian, 3-0, in a semifinal match at Andrean High School.
They advance to Saturday’s final where they will face the host 59ers (11-3-3), who routed Boone Grove, 7-1, on Wednesday and Hammond Noll, 6-0, in Thursday’s other semifinal.
The Niners are 8-0-1 in their last nine games.
Four minutes into RCHS’s game with Illiana on Thursday, the field was cleared for a lightning delay. After returning 30 minutes later, the Bombers (10-7) jumped ahead when play resumed, getting a goal from senior Abby Lucas in the fifth minute.
Lucas took a pass from sophomore Sarah Kaufman and hit the right corner of the net.
Lucas would score another goal minutes later when Illiana was called for a foul inside its penalty box. Lucas would find the left side of the net on her penalty kick for a 2-0 lead.
The score remained 2-0 at halftime until Lucas finished off a hat trick by taking a Grace Healey pass and converting a bounding shot for a 3-0 lead early in the second half. The ball caromed off the goalkeeper’s hands and slipped underneath the bar for the score.
The Bombers got defensive after that, keeping Illiana from finding the net. The Vikings, who bow out of the tournament at 6-9, controlled possession in the final 27 minutes of the game.
Senior goalkeeper Abby Ahler stayed busy in the second half and finished with seven saves to secure the shutout.
The Bomber boys dominated its Sept. 16 match with Benton Central during the regular season in a 7-0 victory. But the Bison clamped down on RCHS defensively in the rematch as both teams finished the first half in a 0-0 tie at West Lafayette.
RCHS senior Juan Valencia broke the scoreless tie five minutes into the second half on a long goal off a quick pass from junior teammate Adam Martinez.
However, the Bison (4-13-1) answered right back with a counter attack the Bombers were unable to cut off. With the score 1-1, junior Dalton Henry scored the eventual game winner with 21 minutes remaining in the game, taking Martinez’s pass inside the penalty box and flicking it into the net.
The Bombers had 10 shots at the net, while BC had just five shots. Senior goalkeeper Jared Williamson had four saves for RCHS.
West Lafayette advanced to the title game behind its 5-0 victory over Twin Lakes in Wednesday’s other semifinal. The Indians end the season at 2-9-1.
The Bombers gave the Red Devils fits in a 3-1 regular season loss on Sept. 9. RCHS led 1-0 through the first half and held that lead 10 minutes in the second period before Westside scored three unanswered goals in the game’s final 30 minutes.
It’s the third straight season in which the Bombers will face West Lafayette for the sectional title. The Red Devils won 5-0 in 2020 and 4-0 in 2019.
Westside has eliminated RCHS in each of the last four sectionals.