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Injury, penalty kicks fail to stop Luers

– In a season filled with adversity, the Bishop Luers boys soccer team endured more Saturday en route to the program’s first regional title since 1995.

The Knights won it on a rainy day, against a pesky Blackhawk Christian team and after watching a teammate lie on the field unconscious for about 20 minutes before being taken off on a stretcher in the finals of the Garrett Class A Regional.

The Knights still managed to pull out a 3-2 win over the Braves and advance to the LaVille Semistate.

Second-ranked Luers (17-3) will play Saturday in the semistate semifinals.

“We started out kind of slow (this season), and we had some players we didn’t have all in,” Luers coach John Myers said. “We went through some tough injuries, and these kids have endured all year. Every single time there seems to be a stop sign, and we have gotten through it.”

Early in the second half, Luers junior midfielder Andrew Schenkel caught a knee to his face and was knocked out. Myers said Schenkel eventually was awake, alert, answering questions and was able to recognize his father.

“He wanted to stay out on the field and be a part of this,” Myers said. “The players are all concerned about him.”

His teammates escorted the stretcher off the field.

“Our boy (Schenkel) went down, and we wanted to fight for him, and we got the job done,” said senior Seth Caldwell, who scored two goals, at 37:19 of the first half and 12:16 of the second. “It’s terrifying. It is one of the worst things ever.”

Twice the No. 8 Braves (11-5-4) tied the score on penalty kicks from Brooks Smith after the Knights were called for a hand-ball in the box.

Both times the Knights responded with goals of their own to retake the lead.

“It’s unfortunate and calls go both ways, but it is just how you react to them,” Caldwell said.

Senior Logan West also scored for the Knights, at 10:22 of the first half.

“We are happy with the win,” West said. “It was muddy out, and we had to deal with some sliding around, but I am excited. It is all up from here. We are ready to go.”

Luers beat Blackhawk Christian 3-1 earlier in the season. This one was a lot tougher.

“I know they haven’t had any close games in the postseason,” Blackhawk Christian coach Bob Freeborn said. “The kids worked hard and created chances.

“You play that game 100 times, and I don’t think you would see that kind of game again. It was odd.”