PORT CLINTON — Lexington was stunned early when Shawnee got on the scoreboard first.
But Lexington quickly recovered and came swarming at the Shawnee goal.
Lexington held on for a 3-2 victory against Shawnee in the Division II boys soccer regional championship game Saturday at Port Clinton High School.
Shawnee has made one boys soccer state semifinal appearance, in 2001, when Shawnee coach Ryan Quatman was a starting midfielder on that team.
“This is the best team ever at Shawnee,” Quatman said. “Our team (in 2001) didn’t have a regular season like this one and didn’t set records like this one.’’
Shawnee ends its season 19-2 and Western Buckeye League champions.
Lexington (22-1) advances to the state semifinals to meet the Warren Howland (19-0-1)/Notre Dame Cathedral Latin (9-4-7) winner next Wednesday at a site to be named.
Lexington outshot Shawnee 13-6.
Shawnee goalkeeper Landon Hoehn made nine saves.
Lexington goalkeeper Kaleb Rinehart had four saves.
Lexington defeated Shawnee 3-2 in the regular-season match very early in the year at Lexington.
In that game, Lexington led 3-0 at the half.
But this game would have plenty of twists and turns.
“I knew this would be a battle,” Lexington’s Ryan Parker said.
The match was tied at 1 at half and Lexington pulled out to a 3-1 lead with 3:29 to go.
Shawnee scored in the final seconds to get within 3-2.
Shawnee came at Lexington early and scored with 28:20 left in the first half.
The Indians scored off a free kick near the right sideline 25-yards out by Carter Jensen. His kick flew into the heart of the box and landed on the foot of Connor Neidemire.
Neidemire fired a shot just under the crossbar to give Shawnee a 1-0 lead with 28:20 left in the first half.
“I think we woke up a bear,” Quatman said.
Lexington began to solve Shawnee’s defensive formation of 4-5-1, which was turning the Minutemen away for the first 20 minutes.
All season long Shawnee rolled out a 3-5-2 formation.
“That’s our defensive formation,” Quatman said of the 4-5-1.
Lexington tied the match with 5:31 left in the first half.
Lexington’s Blake Webster fed the ball ahead to Gabe Hamilton, who hit a low liner into the left corner off the net from 22-yards out.
“I think our first goal took a little of the wind out of their sails,” Lexington coach Peter Them said. “At that point, we wanted to impose our will on them.’’
Added Quatman, “After their first goal (to tie the game), they really came out pressing and we couldn’t stay in our shell.’’
Lexington took the lead to stay with 28 minutes to play off a corner kick by Trevor Fehr.
The ball came into the box and it was headed home by Parker.
That gave Lexington a 2-1 lead.
“It wasn’t even supposed to go to me,” Parker said. “I was by the goalkeeper. But there it was and I got a lucky flick on it.’’
The Minutemen controlled play most of the second half, as they constantly buzzed around the Shawnee 18-yard box.
Also, with 10 minutes to go, Shawnee pushed everyone up and left only two defenders in the rear.
Lexington’s Gavin George got loose on a breakaway with Hoehn and Hoehn made a diving save with 5:26 to go.
Two minutes later, at 3:29, George came down again on a one-on-one breakaway and this time scored on a low liner just inside the post past Hoehn.
That gave Lexington a 3-1 lead.
Shawnee’s Damien Zeigler scored on a breakaway with eight seconds to play to make it 3-2 Lexington.
“We played much better against them this time than during the season,” Quatman said.
Quatman said he was very proud of his record-setting team.
The Indians set a school record with 19 wins. Their 102 goals was one short of the team record.
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.