FORT WAYNE – From the outside, Concordia’s upset of the top-ranked Mishawaka Marian Knights in the finals of the Class 3A semistate last Saturday may have come as a shock. The Cadets came into the match with seven losses and struggled to win in five games in the sectional finals against SAC rival Bishop Dwenger.
And it wasn’t even as if the Cadets were catching fire at the right time, having won a pedestrian three of five to end the regular season. But here they are, with a matchup against the Brebeuf Braves in the Class 3A state championship match at 3 p.m. Saturday at Ball State.
Concordia beat No. 3 New Prairie 3-1 in the semistate semifinals and No. 6 Fairfield by the same score in the regional.
We have upset a lot of teams this year, and we weren’t even expected to make it out of sectionals, Concordia junior Tionna Williams said. Being here is a blessing.
It definitely puts it in perspective. Nothing is definite. Everybody has so much heart, and they play with so much passion.
Class 3A No. 7 Concordia (29-7) pulled off the upset in impressive fashion with a 3-0 sweep of the Knights (36-2), who were a senior-laden team while the Cadets have only one senior starter.
It’s been a season of building on and learning from losses for the Cadets, who dropped only one non-tournament format match this season. Concordia lost to No. 5 Bellmont in a regular-season match 3-2, then turned around and beat the Braves at the Yorktown Invitational four days later.
The losses have come against Delta in the Yorktown Invitational on Aug. 31, against Warsaw, Elkhart Memorial and Valparaiso at the Michigan City Invitational on Sept. 21 and Crown Point and Elkhart Memorial at the LaPorte Invitational on Oct. 12.
The Cadets won all 11 SAC matches in winning the regular-season and tournament conference titles.
You are always building, you are always improving, Concordia coach Trish Miller said. Our biggest hurdling block was toughness, mental toughness and staying in games and not letting games get away from us. I will take seven losses to make them tougher. We want to put them in position to be playing their best (in the state tournament).
The key in the upset of the Knights was the play of the Cadets’ defense.
We played phenomenal defense, Miller said. We didn’t let the ball hit the floor. They are not used to that. They are used to one-ball termination. I thought we really wore them down.
After facing a Marian team that had one loss coming into the semistate, Concordia will now play a No. 9 Brebeuf team that has 12 losses (18-12).
We have another one to get done, Miller said in reference to the state finals.
The Braves ended the regular season with two straight losses and three in their final five matches. Brebeuf lost five in a row at one point from Sept. 7 to 19.
Brebeuf has been in the state championship before, with 3A state titles in 2003, 2005 and 2009 and a runner-up finish to Bellmont in 2010. Concordia has been the single-class runner-up in 1976 and the 2003 3A runner-up.