KJ Abair’s blood pressure probably went up a few points in the last 10 minutes, but after Toledo Central Catholic chopped a two-goal deficit to a precarious single score margin, Abair’s Delta Panthers made all the plays to hold on to a 2-1 win in the Division II boys soccer sectional final in Delta Thursday.
The win made it back-to-back years Delta has claimed a sectional title.
“One of the goals we had was winning at sectional again and making it two in a row,” said Abair. “We now have a chance to go after the next goal and that’s winning at district.”
Delta controlled play early and finally broke through with 30 minutes left in the first half.
Nolan Risner’s feed found the foot of Caiden Etter and the Panther sophomore beat the goalie with a crossing shot to the right side of the net to put the Panthers on top.
Goalie Brodey Roth kept the Irish off the board, stopping Brian Bishop’s attempt on a back side header off a corner, then after Bishop dribbled down the left side and tried to duplicate Etter’s crossing shot, Roth stuffed him again with nine minutes left in the first.
The Panthers got an insurance goal with 21:17 left in the game.
Bryce Gillen drilled home Lucas Ford’s feeder for a two-goal lead.
The goal proved huge when with eight minutes left, Madden Bernal picked a pass and left footed one home to make it a one-goal game.
However, Roth didn’t face a difficult chance the rest of the way as the Panthers held off the Irish.
“The last goal was big,” expressed Abair. “It was a big play by a senior who has made plays for us for all year long. For us to advance we need everyone to be in sync and make those plays.”
The Panthers play Lake tonight on their home turf in the opening round of the district. Look for a story from that game online at fcnews.org and in the Thursday online edition of the Expositor.