Just not a similar performance.
A largely lethargic Tribe relied on two early goals, one each from its senior strike pairing, to progress past the visiting Cherokees 2-0 in a Region 1-AAA boys soccer semifinal. D-B (19-0-1) will host Science Hill —a 4-0 winner over District 2 champion Seymour in Tuesday’s other semifinal — for the regional crown Thursday.
The Indians will need a much more focused display if they expect to record a third win this season against the Hill. They played in patches Tuesday — early and late. Energy, too, was scarce. South-Doyle (11-5), meanwhile, was aggressive from the opening kickoff.
“Everybody has a stinker game and that was a stinker game,” D-B first-year coach Chris Woods said. “If you get the result in a stinker game, that’s even better.”
“What happens, in my opinion, is that you’re facing a team that is facing elimination,” Woods added. “We had a nice result against them earlier in the year, but their season wasn’t on the line then. Tonight we didn’t match their intensity. They didn’t want their season to end.”
Neither did the Tribe, at least at the start. Chase Givens was presented with an open goal after just five minutes — following some good industry from senior forward Jack Dell, who forced South-Doyle goalkeeper Sawyer Campbell off his goal line — but saw his lofted strike drift just over the crossbar.
Givens atoned five minutes later, his driven crossing pass from the right byline finished at the far post by Dell. Cherokees defender Nick Gipson was in position to clear but somehow failed to make any telling contact on the cross, which was clipped beyond the keeper by Dell.
After 20 minutes, D-B doubled its tally through a well-taken free kick at midfield. Defender Greg Vogel’s delivery was flicked on at the edge of the penalty area by freshman Warren Austin. David Geno was the first to react, ghosting across Campbell to head into an open net. It was the senior forward’s 100th career goal.
The rest of the first half — and much of the opening exchanges following the interval — belonged to South-Doyle, though the Cherokees struggled in the final third of the field. Many of their scoring chances were of the ambitious variety, such was the defensive steadfastness of the D-B back four.
A brilliant last-ditch block by Tribe freshman defender Austin Pate in his own box denied South-Doyle at 31 minutes. That proved to be the visitors’ finest chance of the evening.
“We showed up tonight. We wanted it a little more than we did in March,” Cherokees coach Gabe Walker said. “We didn’t quite get into the 18 as much as we would have liked. The chances we did create, we just didn’t finish.”
Wood wasted little time praising his defensive fivesome: “Hats off to the defense. They looked horrible at times, but they kept a clean sheet. Austin Pate, thank goodness for him.”
Now, the focus reverts back to a familiar opponent in Science Hill. The two District 1 sides have met twice this season, the last just a week ago in the district tournament final. Both matches resulted in 1-0 wins for the Indians.
“How do you beat a good team three times in a season?” Woods said. “They’re going to be angry. They should be. We’re going to have to match their intensity.
“I don’t think the boys will have any problem getting up for that game. We’re trying to take care of business. We want to win a region title.”