By ALEX CARSON
No. 2-ranked University scored once in the first half, and twice in the second, to win the school’s first boys soccer sectional championship Saturday, defeating No. 14 Park Tudor 3-1 to win the Class 1A Sectional 40 crown at Heritage Christian.
The Trailblazers (14-4) started Saturday’s championship match on the front foot, and 12 minutes into the game, they held the lead, as senior forward Ryan Williams beat an onrushing Park Tudor goalkeeper to the ball to poke home for an early 1-0 advantage after Williams and junior forward Michael Bounsall created a chance by applying pressure to the Panthers defense. That 1-0 lead would not last to the half, though, as Panthers junior midfielder Logan Mobasser did enough to poke home past Trailblazers senior goalkeeper Thomas Burgess in the 29th minute to bring Park Tudor (9-8) back level at 1-1.
It looked as if University had a penalty seven minutes from halftime when Williams was tripped up in the box, but the referee denied the Trailblazers’ shouts, as the match reached halftime at that 1-1 score.
It was a blustery afternoon at Heritage Christian, though, and after defending against it in the first half, University had the significant wind at its back in the second — and the Trailblazers used it to their advantage to score the only two goals of the final 40 minutes.
Nearly 10 minutes into the second half, University set up a free kick from the right wing, one senior defender Jacob Alford played into the box. After the ball bounced, it reached junior midfielder Coghlin Kumler, who blasted the ball past the goalkeeper for the 2-1 advantage.
University had to withstand some Panthers pressure in the 53rd minute. Then with 20 minutes to play, sophomore midfielder Jacob Masoncup took advantage of a miscommunication in the Park Tudor defense to beat the keeper and establish some breathing room, lengthening the lead to 3-1.
Trailblazers head coach Wes Priest said how his team handled the wind — getting a goal against it and two with it — was key in the victory.
“I think these conditions are really difficult to play in and it was just a matter of who was able to capitalize — I think the wind was 20 or 25 miles an hour,” Trailblazers head coach Wes Priest said. “ … For us to score two goals in the second half with that wind at our back really helped.”
Park Tudor struggled to get a solid foothold over the final 20 minutes, as University played out the program’s maiden sectional championship, a crown that follows a first Pioneer Academic Athletic Conference championship, won last month. Priest praised his veteran leaders — the Trailblazers have 15 seniors — after winning this most recent honor.
“I can’t say enough about our season,” Priest said. “We won the PAAC tournament, advanced through probably the toughest sectional in the state, and it’s been a great run for these 15 seniors and I hope we can continue to keep it going.”
Saturday’s win was the second of the season over Park Tudor (a 3-0 result on Aug. 29 the first), and came three days after the Trailblazers outlasted defending regional champion and No. 4 Heritage Christian on penalties, 2-2 (5-3), to advance to the title game. It was also the Trailblazers’ seventh win of the season over a ranked opponent — University has also defeated No. 11 Seton Catholic, No. 12 Greenwood Christian, No. 20 Central Christian, and 2A No. 12 Tri-West this season.
University will advance to its first regional Saturday, where it will travel to Taylor to face the winner of Monday’s Sectional 38 championship game between No. 10 Lafayette Central Catholic and North White.
By ALEX CARSON