Columbus East overcame its first one-goal deficit Thursday night but couldn’t quite do the same with its second one-goal deficit of the evening.
East Central scored a pair of first-half goals and shut out the Olympians in the second half to hold on for a 2-1 win in the boys soccer Columbus North Regional semifinals.
The Trojans (16-2-1), who are undefeated against Indiana teams this season, advance to Saturday night’s regional final, where they will play Floyd Central. The Highlanders beat Connersville 5-2 in Thursday’s first semifinal.
East Central struck quickly, scoring in the fifth minute on a rocket from Kurt Fox. But the Olympians (12-5-1) answered in the 12th minute when Levi Copas put a ball through Trojan goalkeeper Austin Mosley’s hands.
“We responded to some adversity there at the beginning when we had a goal scored on us early,” East coach Brad Barber said. “It was nice to see that fight from our boys, and that’s been true all year.”
East Central took the lead for good in the 37th minute. The Olympians’ Andy Davidson saved a free kick attempt by Grant Williams, but Nathan Schmeusser was in the right spot for the rebound and put it away for a 2-1 lead.
After that, the Olympians didn’t mount any good scoring chances until the 78th minute. Mosley tipped away a corner kick by Ramiro Nieto, and Sam Newell’s follow attempt went over the crossbar.
The Trojans finished with a 19-10 shot advantage. East Central put nine shots on goal to five for the Olympians.
Davidson recorded six saves. Defender Landon Miles also had a save when he headed away a Trojan attempt at the goal line.
“(East Central was) the better team today,” Barber said. “I thought our boys played hard, played smart, played together. It’s a big credit to our senior class. They’re outstanding young men, they set the bar high for the underclassmen and the kids that are entering the program.”
The Olympians were coming off their first sectional title since 2005 and only their third in program history. They had won six in a row since a 2-0 loss to East Central on Sept. 19.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the boys the way they fought all season through adversity,” Barber said. “They’re excellent role models and representatives of Columbus East High School.”