East overcomes slow start, blanks Warriors

SEYMOUR — Early on during Wednesday night’s boys soccer sectional semifinal match against Scottsburg, Columbus East gave itself plenty of chances.

It was not until the end of the first half that the scoreboard started to light up. The Olympians picked up two quick goals right before halftime and added three in the second half to claim a 5-0 victory in the semifinals of the Seymour Sectional.

The margin of victory could have been much wider if not for some great saves from Scottsburg goalkeeper Logan Cooper.

“The credit for this win goes to our second unit,” East coach Brad Barber said. “The training session we have had this week — our second unit did a great job preparing us for Scottsburg. We knew that if they applied a certain tactic, we knew what we needed to do to generate scoring opportunities.”

The Olympians (9-5-1) now have a rematch with crosstown rival Columbus North, who defeated Madison in the second semifinal match.

“I think it is going to be way competitive than last time,” East junior Dustin Rodgers said. “We’re all trying to get as far as we can in the postseason. We’re going to be working all week to get ready for it.”

A handball by Scottsburg in the box gave East a penalty kick. Rodgers converted to put East ahead 1-0. In the 38th minute, Rodgers scored his second goal when Jayvon Thomas took a few touches from the right side of the field and delivered a perfect cross to Rodgers, who finished the play.

“The penalty kick was definitely a morale booster for us,” Rodgers said. “We were down on ourselves because we could not put any shots in. We had the opportunities, but we just weren’t finishing. Once we got one goal in, it opened the floodgates for us.”

In the second half, Nicholas Shedd got in on the action in the 54th minute. He got a touch on the ball, and his shot went through the arms of Cooper for a 3-0 lead.

Antony Espinoza picked up a couple of goals in the waning minutes of the game. His first goal came in the 70th minute, when his shot hit off the crossbar and deflected into the net. He scored again in the 74th minute, when he delivered a kick from the right side of the field that went by Cooper.

East took 50 shots, with 25 on goal. The Warriors managed only one shot.

Now the Olympians’ attention is focused squarely on North.

“There is no doubt they will be focused,” Barber said. “They’re excited that they have a chance to play against their crosstown rival. We’ll make sure we prepare well and have a good plan going in and execute what we are trying to do.”