SHELBYVILLE — For the second straight sectional tournament match, the only goal Greenfield-Central scored was the only one it needed.
After defeating Shelbyville 1-0 Monday in a quarterfinal round contest of Class 3A Shelbyville Sectional 12 of the IHSAA Boys Soccer State Tournament, the Cougars won by the same score over Hancock County rival New Palestine (8-8-1) in a semifinal game Wednesday.
With the 1-0 win over the Dragons, Greenfield-Central (12-1-3) will play for a sectional championship Saturday at 7 p.m. The Cougars will take on East Central (14-2-1), an 8-1 winner over Connersville (13-4-1) in Wednesday’s second semifinal at the Shelbyville Soccer Complex.
It was the 13th shutout of the season — adding to the school-record first eclipsed with No. 11 — for Greenfield-Central’s defense and goalkeeper Jordin Jones.
With 14 minutes remaining in the first half, Cougar senior forward Bryce Kinnaman scored the game’s only goal.
He had a few good chances saved by New Palestine senior goalkeeper Blake Bobrow, but was able to get a rocket off his right foot past Bobrow for the game’s only score.
“I was dribbling up toward (Bobrow). Both my teammates (Dalton Evanoff and Drew Davidson) were on each side of me calling for the ball so it was stretching out their defense really well,” Kinnaman said of his seventh goal of the season, tying him with Evanoff for most on the team. “Both of those runs really helped space things out. I saw a window for a shot and, lucky enough, it went in. That can’t happen without my teammates taking space for me.”
New Palestine had its chances, mostly in the second half, while Bobrow was keeping it a one-goal game with a number of saves on his end.
“We felt like we had a lot of chances over and over again, but couldn’t put it away,” Greenfield-Central assistant coach Matt McConnell said. “Credit to Blake Bobrow, who made big saves.”
New Palestine had opportunities on Jones and his defense, but weren’t able to get a good shot on frame. The best chance came late when frosh Paxton Holmes fired an attack that went just over the goal.
For New Palestine, the loss drops it to .500. It’s over .500 regular season was the program’s first in six years.
Along with goalkeeper Bobrow, New Pal graduates Brendan Tanksley, Cody Crawmer and Chase Martin.
“We played well. I loved the way we played,” New Palestine coach Brett Canova said. “Wish we would have scored one, but that’s the way the game goes sometimes. (Greenfield-Central) played well, too.”
Canova said Bobrow’s game was probably his best of the year.
“All great kids,” Canova said of his seniors. “They led in effort every time they went out. For us, that is huge and they are incredible teammates. We’re going to miss them.”
Greenfield-Central and East Central — though they haven’t always gone head-to-head in the finals — have been the sectional tournament’s most dominant teams.
The Trojans have won the last two tournaments. Greenfield-Central had won four straight sectional tournaments prior to East Central taking home the prize in 2020 and 2021. Both G-C and EC won separate sectionals at the 2A level in 2016.
Last year, East Central knocked out Greenfield-Central in the semifinals on penalty kicks.
“It feels really great (to play for a championship),” Kinnaman added. “It’s going to take grit and preparedness.”