On to the finals: Cougars rebound, top Connersville in sectional semifinal


FORTVILLE — Down 1-0 early in a sectional semifinal, Greenfield-Central wasn’t fazed.

The Cougars found themselves trailing Connersville by a goal less than six minutes into Wednesday’s boys soccer match, but they wouldn’t stay behind for long.

Zack Bell evened the score with 23 minutes remaining in the first half, and Greenfield-Central seized momentum from there, controlling the ball for most of the rest of the half.

“I was confident. As soon as they scored, you could tell there was a click,” Bell said. “It just switched. We just started going at them, possessing, finding our wits, finding our passes, finding our shots. We finally put one away. Once it was 1-1, I was so confident in our team.”

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While the teams entered the break even, the Cougars had put the pressure on after their slow start. Bell pushed his team into the lead 10 minutes into the second half off an assist from Noah Strange, his second goal of the game.

That’s all the lead the Cougars would need. The offense kept pushing and the defense held strong, and Greenfield-Central advanced to Saturday’s sectional championship with a 2-1 win.

“Hard-fought game. Connersville came out really, really strong,” Greenfield-Central coach Bobby Holden said. “We knew they were going to come out strong, but they came out probably stronger than we thought they would. Not to take anything away from how hard Connersville came out, but we just weren’t ready. Honestly, it’s probably good that they scored early like that, because it kind of gave us that wake-up call.”

The wake-up call came off the foot of Brayson McQueen, who got the Spartans on the board first. Greenfield-Central goalie Abe Buescher made a fantastic save on a Spartans scoring opportunity, but the rebound fell to McQueen, who lifted the ball above Buescher and into the back of the net.

Bell answered back after Caleb Mundell looked to shoot but had possession knocked away by the defense inside the box. The ball fell right to Bell just yards in front of the keeper, an easy goal for the junior.

The Cougars (13-3) maintained control for most of the final hour, holding any Connersville comeback attempt at bay. Bell’s second goal, with 30 minutes remaining, held up as the Spartans (10-4-2) struggled to get many meaningful scoring chances in the second half.

“Any time you’re down and come back and win, there’s obviously something to be proud of,” Holden said. “I am proud that they came back, they fought off the adversity of being down. The boys kept finding ways to get shots on goal, and eventually they broke through.”

To get a second consecutive sectional title, the Cougars will need to go through East Central, who advanced to the finals with a 2-1 win against Mt. Vernon in Wednesday’s second game.

Greenfield-Central lost its previous meeting with the Trojans, 3-2, back in mid August. But with a sectional title on the line, the previous result means nothing now.

The teams meet with the sectional championship on the line at 7 p.m. Saturday at Mt. Vernon.

“They’re both good. Whoever we play, we’re going to come out, play our way, play as hard as we can and try to get that dub,” Bell said.