DAILY JOURNAL SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Whiteland Community High School boys soccer coach Justin VanHorn didn’t see much to like about his team’s first-half performance of its sectional game Wednesday night. The second half was another story.
“We came in kind of lackadaisical,” VanHorn said. “We were late to warmups. Guys just weren’t in the game. We made some adjustments (in the second half), and it showed. The guys finished the game.
“I’m pretty happy with the second-half performance definitely.”
Understandable, since the Warriors turned a 1-0 halftime lead into a 4-1 victory against Greenwood in a Class 2A Center Grove Sectional game. Whiteland (13-3-1) will now play Class 2A No. 7 Center Grove (13-2-2), a 9-0 winner against Martinsville, at 2 p.m. Saturday in the championship.
“(The Trojans) look pretty tough,” said VanHorn, whose team has its first winning season in school history. “We’ll give it our best.”
Center Grove has 20 sectional titles. Whiteland has none.
The Warriors had taken a 1-0 lead on senior Jordan Thomas’ goal. In the first minute of the second half, Pablo Del Pino Rivero scored to give the Warriors a 2-0 lead. Three minutes later, Andrew Morgan’s goal gave the Warriors a 3-0 edge.
Cole Mahan scored for Greenwood with 23.58 left in the second half to make it 3-1.
“There was a miscommunication, and their goal came from that,” VanHorn said. “Otherwise we played pretty solid defensively. They’re a good team.”
J.T. Beers added the final goal for the Warriors with 17:57 to go.
“We had a lot of leadership from Jordan Thomas,” said VanHorn, whose team shared its first Mid-State Conference crown with Plainfield. “He basically holds the midfield for us. Riley Shives up top played well.
“(Goalie) Bailey Shives saved a penalty kick. So that was huge for us. That could have changed momentum, and he came up big for us.”
Greenwood coach David Harker knew it was going to be a hard-fought game.
“If we were going to stay with them, we were going to have to match their intensity and maybe even a little more,” Harker said. “I thought we did some things really well, but unfortunately we couldn’t score.
“We missed the penalty kick in the second half that could have changed the momentum.”
Whiteland had beaten host Greenwood 1-0 during the regular season.
“The first match was pretty similar,” Harker said. “It was back and forth. Obviously, they kind of had the run of play, and it was up to us to disrupt and play some good team defense.
“That’s what we tried to do (Wednesday night), but just didn’t get it done.”
In the second game, it took Center Grove nearly 10 minutes to score its first goal. But then the rout was on as the Trojans led 7-0 at halftime.
“We haven’t played for about two weeks, so we have a little rust to dust off,” Trojans coach Jameson McLaughlin said. “Once they got in the groove and got going, they played a lot better.”
Scoring in the first half was Conrad Bomber, Keaton Radecki, Reed Sauter, Kyle Parry, Griffin Smith, Ben DeRose and Jared Wilkerson.
Nathan Silva started the second-half scoring for Center Grove. Bomber’s second goal gave the Trojans a 9-0 advantage.