By TR HARLAN
It was a two-hour drive to Indianapolis and Kuntz Stadium, but those fans who
followed the Chesterton boys soccer team to the IHSAA State Finals got their
After 94 minutes of soccer between the Trojans and Indianapolis North
Central, it all came down to a shootout as Chesterton advanced to the State
Championship match 6-5 in penalty kicks.
“I feel very fortunate to come out on top,” Chesterton coach Jamie Sensibaugh
said. “Fitness was an issue. It was only a matter of time I thought before we
scored. They looked very tired and back on their heels.”
The first two shooters in the five-man shootout scored for both teams before
Chesterton goalkeeper Alex Mannen made a save against North Central’s Matt
Sanner. A save by Kelly Powers for the Panthers kept things tied.
Both shooters for North Central scored before Dan Spears fired a shot past
Powers to send the match to sudden death.
“The pressure calms me down, I know it sounds weird,” Spears said. “You just
have to take a deep breath and slow the game down.”
North Central’s Stephen Miner scored in sudden death and that left things up
to Chesterton’s Kevin Gates. Gates hadn’t played in the game, but had no
problem blasting the ball past Powers.
“You have to believe in your kids,” Sensibaugh said. “He was asking to go out
there. I’ve seen what he can do in practice. I had all the faith in the world
that he would come through for us.”
When the Panthers’ Ben Pflederer sent a shot towards Mannen, the senior
goalkeeper knocked it away.
“He was over-exaggerating that he was going to go to his right, so I figured
it was going the other way,” Mannen said. “A lot of times when they are
putting the ball down, they’ll look to the side they are going to go.
Sometimes, you just get lucky and you have to guess.”
Chesterton senior Kurt Fant had the game on his foot and he didn’t waste it.
“I’ve never been in that situation before,” Fant said. “Their goalie was
trying to freeze our shooters, so I thought I’d make sure I took my time and
“This was such a team effort. I didn’t do anything more than any other guy
out there did.”
Fant sent a ball with his right foot just inside the right post past Powers
and sent the Trojans to their first State Championship match.
Both teams had one-on-one chances to score in the first half, but both
goalkeepers came up big on a breakaway. North Central also had another
three-shot chance in the box in the first half.
Mannen made a save, but a rebound was fired twice into an open net, but Fant
was there twice to make the save.
“I’m here to defend Alex Mannen to the end,” Fant said. “He was great today.
I just was in a place to kick the ball away.”
“Kurt saved a couple sure goals for us today,” Mannen said. “Then scored at
the end. He was amazing today.”
No. 1 ranked Evansville Memorial got goals from Zach Braddock and B.J.
Stapleton in each half as they beat Goshen 2-0 to advance to the finals.
Chesterton 0, Indpls. North Central 0
(CHS wins 6-5 on PK’s)
AT KUNTZ STADIUM, INDIANAPOLIS
Chesterton – Alex Mannen 8 saves.
Indpls. North Central – Kelly Powers 6 saves.
Records – Chesterton 19-4-1, Indpls. North Central 17-5-3.
Evansville Memorial 2, Goshen 0
AT KUNTZ STADIUM, INDIANAPOLIS
Evansville Memorial – BJ Stapleton 1 goal; Zach Braddock 1 goal, 1 assist;
Trev Wilgus 2 saves.
Goshen – Jason Lauver 9 saves.
Records – Evansville Memorial 23-0-2, Goshen 17-4-3.