LIMA – New Knoxville’s Jose Maria never hesitated.
After settling the pass, he let loose a laser shot which found the back of the net.
Maria’s goal with 20:35 to play gave New Knoxville a 3-2 victory over Lima Central Catholic in the Division III boys soccer sectional finals Wednesday at Spartan Stadium.
Maria, a foreign exchange student from Madrid, Spain, had done a good job directing traffic and passing from his spot at the center midfield.
But with match tied at 2, he knew it was time for him to shoot.
The ball was played into the corner to the Rangers’ Joseph Baende, who slipped it to Patrick Covert on the wing. Covert fed it to Maria at the top of the 18-yard box.
Maria one-timed the shot home for the game-winner.
“I saw he was passing it back and I shot it with all my strength,” Maria said.
Added New Knoxville coach Matt Stetler, “The way he (Maria) controls the midfield is something you hardly ever see in this game, at the Division III level.’’ Maria said he’s had to make a few adjustments playing by Ohio high school rules, compared to back home in Spain.
“It was a change, but they’ve taught me what I have to do,” Maria said. “There are different rules, but I’m used to it now.’’
Maria added that the game in Ohio is close to as physical as it is in Spain.
New Knoxville (9-6-3) advances to the district semifinals against Kalida at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Kalida.
LCC ends its season 5-9-1.
“Both teams played well,” LCC coach Tim McNamara said. “I wouldn’t say it was anything that we did wrong. They made one more opportunity than we did.’’
Covert had a goal and an assist for the Rangers.
Baende also scored for New Knoxville. Trey Horstman and Josiah Simpson scored for LCC.
Odie Ugwanye had two assists for the T-Birds.
The match was delayed for 20 minutes with 1:38 to play when the Rangers’ Carter Piehl went down on his back after a collision with Horstman.
He was taken off the field on a stretcher.
“All his extremities are good,” Stetler said. “He knows where he’s at. I think he’s got a good case of whiplash. … He went shoulder-to-shoulder with Trey
(Horstman) and I think he got blind-sided by it. I don’t think he realized Trey was there.’’
LCC won the regular-season match between the two, 4-3, with Horstman scoring all four goals.
Hortsman had one goal on three shots on Wednesday.
“Our goal was let him (Horstman) take the ball 35-yards from the goal and let him go outside with it,” Stetler said. “He’s very quick with the ball and very lethal going to the middle. We always made sure we had cover when we had someone pressuring the ball on him.’’
The Rangers’ flat-back four defense was powered by Chris Covert and Ryland Dyrness in the middle and Jacklyn Leffel and Joelle Delisle on the wings.
LCC outshot New Knoxville 15-14.
LCC goalkeeper Jack Zerante made nine saves.
Rangers goalkeeper Josh Dietsch had eight saves.
The Rangers scored first when Baende got loose down the right sideline, went into the box and drilled it into the net from 12-yards out.
That made it 1-0 New Knoxville with 34:05 in the first half.
Horstman tied the match at 1. He took a pass across the top of the 18 from Ugwanye and fired it low right into the net from 18-yards out.
That came with 12:49 before halftime.
Simpson scored from just inside the goalbox, 5-yards out, on another pass from Ugwanye.
That gave LCC a 2-1 lead with 36:53 to go.
The Rangers’ Covert got loose around midfield, dribbled free and rocketed a tying goal from top of the circle, 22-yards out.
That tied the match at 2 with 28:39 to go.
Ugwanye had a strong opportunity from 18-yards out with 10:01 to go, but his shot was rejected by the crossbar.