FLOYDS KNOBS — Saturday’s Class 3A Floyd Central Sectional final was all about the opportunities.
For Columbus East, it was about those converted. For Floyd Central, it was about those missed.
The fifth-ranked Olympians netted a goal in each half en route to a 2-0 triumph over the host Highlanders in earning their second sectional title in three years.
“Their team is a fantastic team, ... they had a lot of hunger," said first-year Floyd coach Scott Menne, whose team ended its season with a 7-9-2 record. "They had a lot of will to win this game, but we were right there with them.”
East (15-0-3) had beaten Floyd Central 4-1 early in the season (Aug. 19). The rematch was decidedly closer.
The Highlanders, who had won five sectional titles in the previous six years, controlled possession early and had their best chance for a goal in the 11th minute, when Pablo Flores was fouled in the box. However, Flores’ subsequent penalty kick was blocked by Olympians goalkeeper Zach Roberts.
“I don’t know if he slipped, but he shot down the middle, which is not usually where he goes,” Menne said of Flores’ attempt.
Back-and-forth play continued for the next 15 minutes before East senior midfielder Jorge Nieto beat Floyd keeper Liam Fitzgerald with a left-footed blast to the right corner of the goal from just outside the box with 13:02 to play.
“That goal, the first goal, the player makes a great play. We knew how to play him, but he made a great play,” Menne said.
It remained 1-0 until the 51st minute when East sophomore Christopher Quisenberry beat a pair of defenders, then Fitzgerald, on a breakaway.
“The second goal was just us being out of position,” said Menne, whose team was outshot 14-10.
Eight minutes after Quisenberry's goal Floyd senior midfielder Xander Ochsner received his second yellow card of the match, resulting in his ejection. The Highlanders played a man down the remainder of the match.
The loss was the final match for Floyd's 11 seniors — Flores, Ochsner, Drew Cromwell, Amin Mesfin, Garrett Sekelsky, Kyle Rippy, David Garner, Grant Saylor, Jason Corrado, Omar Villegas and Thomas Mercer.
“We’re losing a few guys that have been key players the last couple years. They’ll be missed dearly, but we’ll go back and start over next year,” Menne said. “We’ve got another crop of kids coming in and we hope to be back here vying for a title again.”