KALIDA – Throughout the second half, Lima Central Catholic kept finding ways to stop Kalida from scoring.
Kalida controlled the ball for most of the second half.
Then, with 2:50 left to play in regulation and the score knotted at 1 apiece, Kalida’s Zach von der Embse had an opportunity to take a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box.
The senior von der Embse split the wall of LCC defenders to score the go-ahead goal.
That free kick was all the Wildcats needed as Kalida slipped out with a hard-fought 2-1 victory against LCC in a Division III boys district semifinal soccer matchup Wednesday night.
With the victory, Kalida (13-4-1) will face Ottoville, which defeated Continental 2-1 in a match that went to penalty kicks, at 1 p.m. Saturday for a district title.
LCC ends the season 9-10.
“I guess turnaround is fair play,” longtime Kalida head coach Mark Czubik said. “They (LCC) scored on a free kick in the first half. Then, we got one on them in the second half.
“I told Zach (von der Embse), ‘Just relax, take a crack at it and let’s see what happens.’ And luckily for us, it went in. We move on and hopefully we’ll play a little better on Saturday.”
Kalida got on the scoreboard first.
Less than 10 minutes into the contest, Gabe Hovest received a nice feed from Logan Langhals and promptly headed the ball past LCC goalkeeper Jack Zerante (six saves) to give the Wildcats the early lead.
For the game, Hovest took four shots on goal.
Less than five minutes later, LCC’s Josiah Simpson scored off a free kick, just outside the 18-box to knot the game at 1 apiece. The two teams went into the halftime break with the scored tied.
Kalida took four clean shots on goal in each half.
The Wildcats controlled the ball for most of the final 40 minutes of action.
However, every time Kalida got near their goal, LCC came up with a stop.
At the offensive end, the T-Birds managed just three shots on goal.
“We came out hard and took it to them,” LCC coach Tim McNamara said. “We told the kids that there was nothing to hang their heads about. We took it to them. It was unfortunate we gave up that free kick in the final few minutes of the game. But it was such a close game and we played our hearts out.”
Kalida’s goalkeeper Brayden Recker had two saves on the night.
Kalida took three corner kicks, while LCC took one.
“It’s tournament time,” Czubik said. “I’ve been there, done that both ways. You have to give LCC a lot of credit. Their kids played extremely hard. I think they kind of took us off our game a little bit. You have to tip your cap to them. They did what they had to do to keep the game close. I don’t think we played very well, but they (LCC) had a lot to do with that. I think (LCC head coach) Tim (McNamara) did a great job with his kids tonight, more than anything.”