Most players on the Center Grove boys soccer team are familiar with the range of emotions associated with its recent semistate appearances.

For the past four seasons, pre- match enthusiasm eventually gave way to long, somber bus rides home from Evansville.

Trojans senior goalkeeper Logan Wade remembers them well.

“It’s definitely difficult. Last year I thought we were close, being ahead with 20 minutes to go and (Brebeuf) was given two penalty kicks in two minutes,” Wade said, referring to last season’s gut-knotting 4-3 loss in the title match at the Evansville Harrison Semistate. “That’s kind of defeating when you get right down to it.”

Since 1995, Center Grove has won 14 regional championships, including this season. No team has advanced out of the semistate, though this year’s team is confident of being the first.

Trojans coach Jameson McLaughlin has been on the past three trips to Evansville Harrison and vividly recalls the dejected rides home.

“Everyone is in a great mood on the way there. Everyone is ready to play,” said McLaughlin, a Center Grove midfielder in the early 1990s who spent eight years as the junior varsity coach before being promoted following Todd Sheely’s resignation last February.

“On the way back there’s not a lot of talking,” McLaughlin said. “Everyone kind of keeps to themselves. We get home, and everyone goes their separate ways, unfortunately.

“It’s been hard to get over that hump, so the feeling is, ‘When is our time?’”

With 13 seniors, the Class 2A No. 7 Trojans (18-2-1) believe this might be the season they finally break through and earn the elusive state finals berth.

Seniors Conrad Bomber and Kyle Parry have scored nearly half of Center Grove’s goals this season with 16 and 15, respectively. Both players have scored at least one goal in 10 matches this season.

“We have a lot of seniors and a lot of depth,” said senior Nathan Silva, the team’s leader in assists (8), who also has six goals of his own this season.

“I think we play a better brand of soccer than in the past.

“We play a lot smarter and connect with more of our passes.”

Silva remembers playing either with or competing against the majority of the Trojans seniors since they were 9.

There’s one more chance to make it right.

“If I have to get fired up for this game, we’re in trouble. These kids have literally grown up playing soccer together, and they love each other,” McLaughlin said. “My message to them will be we’ve started this together, let’s finish it together.”

If you go

What: IHSAA girls soccer semistate

Where: Evansville Harrison High School

Semifinals: 11 a.m., Castle vs. East Central; Brebeuf vs. Center Grove

Championship: 7 p.m.

What: IHSAA boys soccer semistate

Where: Evansville Harrison High School

Semifinals: 1 p.m., Center Grove vs. Bloomington South; East Central vs. Carmel

Championship: 7 p.m.

Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at