Archive for Friday, October 28, 2005

Lansing dominates Miege, advances to state quarterfinals

Defense steps up as Lions win regional championship

October 28, 2005

Few people gave the Lansing High boys soccer team a chance to beat Bishop Miege.

Sure, the Lions were the higher seed entering Thursday's Class 5A regional championship game at LHS, but the Stags had played the tougher schedule and had a storied soccer tradition on their side.

Lansing's doubters forgot one thing: The Lions expected to win this game. They had no doubts they would win this game.

And a win is exactly what the Lions got.

Lansing 3, Miege 1.

"I will wager most of the state expected us to lose this game today," LHS coach Randy Brown said. So I'm just happy for the team that we played (and) we did what we had to do to take care of business."

The Lions (16-2) knew the Stags had fast forwards that could cause some serious damage if the defense made any mistakes. Miege (12-5-1) showed that speed early as they created a number of runs at the Lansing goal during the opening minutes. Miege finally struck gold in the 20th minute when it capitalized off a free kick. The ball ricocheted off the Lansing wall and skipped to Sean Mascal who buried a shot just inside the near post for a 1-0 lead.

"When you're behind, what are you going to do? How are you going to respond?' That's (how you tell) the character of the team," Brown said.

In recent years, the moment the Lions fell behind in a playoff game they tended to close up shop. Not this time. Instead, the Stags began talking trash and the Lions got angry. They turned up the intensity and immediately began putting heavy pressure on the Stags' goal.

In the 27th minute, junior forward Andy Dick sent a perfect pass to senior forward Brad Mock who was sprinting down the right side of the field. Miege goalkeeper Sean Bucklew came too far out of the box and Mock chipped a shot over his head that bounced into the net for a 1-1 tie.

"They ran their mouths, so that got me going," Mock said.

Mock's goal seemed to send the Stags into a tailspin. They unraveled and began collecting fouls as the Lions got stronger. Mock, Ty Thackston and Steffen Schumann fired a series of shots on goal that didn't find the net. Then with 3:38 left in the half, Thackston wheeled around at the top of the 18-yard box and fired a shot that sailed just wide of the goal. A foul was called on the play, though, and Lansing senior Mike Bayless took the free kick. His shot sailed just over the Miege wall, clipped the bottom of the crossbar and dropped right onto the goal line. That put LHS on top, 2-1.

The Lions continued to attack and added a third goal before halftime when Thackston headed a pass from Mock into the goal in the 39th minute.

"We just kept putting it on, and they started getting frustrated. Super. That's the kind of result you want," Brown said. "You have to have a psychological edge also. They thought they had it, and we were able to get it back and then we stayed on top."

Despite leading 3-1 at halftime, Lansing knew its lead wasn't safe because Miege had proven all year it was capable of scoring goals in a hurry. The Stags came out reinvigorated in the second half and quickly applied pressure on the LHS goal, but each time the defense was up to the challenge. Defenders Theo Daniels, Steve Parker and Nate Markovetz were nearly flawless in the back, and on the occasions that Miege had a breakaway, junior goalkeeper Alex Burton was there to make acrobatic saves. The key was that the Lansing defense played a smart game and didn't allow itself to get beat when Miege played long balls.

"We learned really quick that they were just going to do long balls and send them up there and try to run onto it, so we played back a little more and just watched the long balls," Parker said. "I think we did a pretty good job on that."

While the defense was solid, the LHS offense wasn't content with a two-goal lead. The forwards continued to generate scoring opportunities and continued to fire shots on goal. The most dazzling attempt came with about five minutes left when Mock placed a bicycle kick on target, but it went right into the hands of Bucklew.

As the minutes ticked down in the second half, the game became drastically more physical. The fouls piled up for both teams, as did the cards. Mock and Thackston each received a yellow card within a six-minute span. Then, Miege's Rick Zahner and Joe Huppe were carded. Eventually, Miege's Garrett Scott was ejected with 3:31 left and Lansing went on to win the game.

"They were just getting out of hand, fouling a lot and talking a lot," Parker said of the Stags. "We just relaxed and played our game."

The Lions next will play on Tuesday in the state quarterfinals against a yet-to-be-determined opponent. The quarterfinal brackets will be posted on lansingcurrent.com as soon as they are made public.

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