It took a while for Delta boys soccer to get some shots on the net but once the Panthers did, they stuck two second half goals in the back of the goal to take down Liberty Center to advance to a Division III sectional final.
The win was the 14th of the year for the Panthers, who also won the NWOAL title.
“The first half we were kind of sluggish and they are a fast and physical team,” Panther coach KJ Abair said. “We just had to tell them to stay calm and play our game and we’ll get one.
“We are a second half team usually, I just told them ‘you’ve got to shoot the ball.’ You can’t put a ball away with two shots like we had in the first half.”
Actually Delta did have chances in the first half to dent the scoreboard.
Nolan Risner’s sharp angle shot from the left side was knocked away by Jackson Wheeler, and Carson Chiesa’s follow was wide right in the 22nd minute.
With nine minutes left, Rylan Andrews took a punch shot out of a scrum in front of the goal that also was saved by Wheeler.
A minute later, Borna Mandic had a chance at a large open section of the net but couldn’t control a bouncing ball on the left for an attempt.
Finally, with 21:13 left in the match, the Panthers broke through.
Max York controlled a loose ball at the head on the goal box and back passed to Chiesa for a bullet that found the middle of the net for a 1-0 Delta lead.
“We work on that all the time,” Abair said of York’s play. “These guys (LC) and Toledo Christian (the Panthers’ next opponent) want to pack 7 or 8 guys in the back. I said we just have to keep shooting and shoot the ball.”
The Panthers got an insurance tally at the 5:42 mark when Cooper Tenney corralled a loose ball in front of the net and drilled it home to double the Delta score.
The Tigers had a pair of late chances, but aggressive goalie Brodey Roth denied LC from scoring.
The first was a sprawling save on a rolling shot by Michael Romine with about five minutes left, and the second a kick save to turn away Isaiah Estelle with a minute to go.
“He’s doing great for a freshman,” Abair exclaimed of Roth. “It’s amazing how much confidence he has and it helps to have such a great defensive line in front of him and help him after he makes a save, they can clear it.”
The Panthers improved to 15-1-2 after a 4-1 win over Toledo Christian in the sectional final Saturday. It was the program’s first ever sectional title.
Delta is at Ottawa Hills in a district semifinal on Wednesday at 5 p.m.