By GREG MENGELT
Evansville North’s Trevor Poirier put a perfectly placed ball past Jeffersonville goalkeeper Luis Arredondo with 1:43 left in regulation for the only goal in Thursday’s Class 2A Washington Regional semifinal.
The Huskies (8-9-2) advanced to Saturday’s regional final against either 20-0 Vincennes or 13-5-2 Evansville Memorial with the 1-0 victory.
Poirier’s goal started with an Andrew Perfitt corner kick. Jeff was originally able to clear Perfitt’s corner, but not far enough away from the goal. Jeff senior Jordan Vejar appeared to have a play on the ball for the clear, but he collided with the on-field referee.
Poirier took advantage of Vejar’s misfortune and rocketed the loose ball into the right corner of the goal past Arredondo. It was the first goal scored on Arredondo, who had little chance of making the save, during Jeff’s tournament run.
“I felt like I was going to get it,” Vejar said through tears of disappointment. “I’m about 100 percent I would have [cleared] it if the referee hadn’t been in the way. It was just an unlucky spot.”
“It’s just unfortunate,” Jeff coach Carson Webb said. “It was a nice hit [by Poirier], unlucky on our part.”
“We’ve been pretty dangerous on corners,” North coach Tim DeBaillie said. “Jeffersonville did a good job of clearing it out, but Trevor was there locking in on it. He saw an opening, took a shot and [Arredondo] never really saw it. He was blocked off.”
After an even first half that saw both teams with a couple of solid opportunities to score, the Red Devils dominated the second half. Jeff had seven scoring chances to four for the Huskies.
Leonard Kwitonda, who missed high on two shots in the first half, had five scoring chances alone in the second half but couldn’t connect.
He had a shot over the goal, one into the side of the net and another that he shot across the goal on a headed pass from Vejar. However, those weren’t his best opportunities.
With 30:49 left in the contest, Kwitonda was fouled in the box by North keeper Brett Millikan after a perfect ball from Brian Fischer.
Kwitonda’s penalty kick went directly at Millikan, who deflected it to the ground then scooped it up.
With 3:10 left, Fischer had a crossing pass toward Kwitonda. The junior put a foot on the ball, directing it toward what appeared to be an open let. However, Millikan got his fingertips on the shot and at the ball went just wide right.
“I thought it was going in,” Fischer recalled. “It was a great save. So close.”
Vejar and teammate Isaiah Salazar both had excellent opportunities to score, as well. With 21 minutes left, Fischer was fouled five yards outside of the box. Vejar’s free kick sent Millikan sprawling. The Huskie keeper was able to push the ball aside for a corner kick. A perfectly positioned Salazar then stopped Salazar’s shot from 10 yards out with 9:10 left.
“We had our chances to score and just didn’t connect,” Webb said. “We played good soccer in the second half. We just didn’t finish. Unfortunately, you don’t get credit for outplaying somebody.”
“The first half we were a little flat,” Vejar admitted. “In the second half, we had way more chances than they had. Our chances were dangerous, but we got unlucky.”
“The second half, they started pressing us real good,” DeBaillie observed. “Just none of [the shots] went their way. Fortunately, we came out with the win.”
Jeff’s season ends with a 13-6-2 mark. However, the Red Devils were able to win their first sectional crown since 2010.
“We accomplished more than what I think people thought we were going to accomplish,” Vejar said. “One of our goals was to bring home sectionals, and I couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys. They’ve given me the best time of my life the last four years.”
“We beat some really good teams this year and done some really good things all year long,” Webb said. “I’m happy with guys.”
Ten Red Devils will be lost to graduation, including Vejar and Fischer. However, Webb expects Jeff to be back strong again in 2013.
“We’re losing a lot of people,” Webb said. “They’re going to be missed, but we have some good underclassmen coming. I’m looking forward to the future.”
CLASS 2A WASHINGTON REGIONAL
EVANSVILLE NORTH 1, JEFFERSONVILLE 0
Evansville North 0 1—1
Jeffersonville 0 0—0
EN — Trevor Poirier, 78:17.