By GREG MENGELT
FLOYDS KNOBS —
In the first two rounds of the Class 2A Floyd Central Sectional, Jeffersonville had beaten defending sectional-champion Jasper and a Floyd Central team that no Red Devil on the current roster had ever beaten.
That’s what made Jeff coach Carson Webb a little nervous heading into Saturday’s sectional final against lightly-regarded 11-5-2 Corydon Central.
There was no need to worry. Webb’s bunch put the Panthers away early and rolled to a 4-1 win for Jeff’s sixth sectional crown in nine years.
“We played two emotion games Monday and Wednesday,” Webb said of a 1-0 win over Jasper and a 3-0 victory over the Highlanders. “And we already beat Corydon earlier in the year, so I was nervous. I think a lot of people overlooked [Corydon], and they’ve gotten much better. I was nervous, very nervous.”
Senior Jordan Vejar said he wasn’t going to allow his team to let down.
“One of my biggest pet peeves is underestimating teams,” he said. “It’s always great to beat a team that’s putting the same effort forth that you are, no matter their skill level.”
Jeff (13-5-2) had won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010 before Jasper upset the Red Devils 2-0 in the semifinals in last year’s initial Class 2A sectional. That defeat made the 2012 Red Devils even hungrier.
“We’ve put a whole lot of sweat on to our practice field and we knew it was going to pay off eventually,” Vejar said. “We want to make a long tournament run, especially after our early go-home last year. It just means a lot to us.”
“This is what we’ve been working for, so it’s really rewarding to finally get it,” senior Skyler Davis added.
“The competition has gotten so difficult in our sectional,” Webb said. “We had our work cut out for us and we knew it. We persevered.”
Even though the scenario of playing Corydon in the final round made him sweat, Webb never really doubted his team would be successful during sectional week.
“We’re good. We’ve got a good team,” Webb said. “They’re relentless. We’ve got a good senior bunch that leads the team and they really put the team on their shoulders this week and earned themselves a sectional championship.”
Jeff got on the board less than three minutes into the contest. Junior Leonard Kwitonda fed Isaiah Salazar off of an Alex Duckworth corner kick for an early 1-0 lead.
“We needed the first goal to give us a good starting point,” Kwitonda said.
“That goal set the tone that we weren’t done and there was a lot more coming,” Vejar said.
“As you get into higher level soccer, most goals are scored on free kicks, set pieces,” Webb assessed. “We do work on those quite a bit. Every time there’s a ball that’s going to be in a dangerous area, we want to make sure we have a lot of bodies at it.”
At the 21:24 mark of the first half, the Devils struck again. Another Duckworth corner kick eventually found the foot of Vejar, who put the ball past starting Corydon keeper Austin Leupp.
“Just playing a whole bunch of years, I’ve learned not to assume that the ball’s going to be caught or trapped. I always follow up the shot. I was in the right place at the right time and Alex Duckworth sent in a great ball and I just finished it.”
Vejar’s second goal put Jeff up 3-0 midway through the second half. This time, Vejar beat Noah Lemure to an Austin Ali pass and put the ball in the left side of the
“It was a great pass by Austin,” Vejar said. “I was able to put on a move and put a good strike in the back of the net.”
The Devils had several chances to score over the final 20 minutes and Kwitonda finally made the attempts pay off when he scored on a pass that ricocheted off Corydon’s Bradley Greene for a 4-0 Jeff lead with 32.8 second remaining.
“I love when Leonard scores,” Webb said. “He does so much work on the flanks. He and Skyler Davis — my outside mids — are ‘assist boys,’ so I love when they score goals.”
“I came out hard just like any other game,” Kwitonda said. “I wanted to be sectional champion.”
Corydon added its goal nine seconds after Kwitonda’s. With the Red Devils still celebrating, Leupp, who was pulled as the goalkeeper after Jeff’s second goal, dribbled down the field uncontested and put a shot past the Red Devils’ backup keeper Ross Burgan.
Jeff will face Evansville North in the Washington Regional on Thursday. The winner will face either Evansville Memorial or Vincennes on Saturday with a regional title on the line. A regional crown would be the Red Devils’ second in three years.
“We’re going to see Jasper-type, Floyd-type teams in the regional,” Vejar said. “We just have to bring the same effort we did this week beating three great teams.”
“It’s going to be a little tougher, but we’re ready,” Kwitonda said.
CLASS 2A FLOYD CENTRAL SECTIONAL
JEFFERSONVILLE 4, CORYDON CENTRAL 1
Corydon Central 0 1—1
Jeffersonville 2 2—4
J — Isaiah Salazar (Leonard Kwitonda), 37:28.
J — Jordan Vejar (Alex Duckworth), 21:24.
J — Vejar (Austin Ali), 20:47.
J — Kwitonda, 32.8.
C — Leupp, 23.2.