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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Canterbury defender Andrew Wojewuczki, left, and Blackhawk Christian midfielder Gabe Koehlinger go up for the ball during the first half of Monday's Class A sectional final at Blackhawk Christian.

  • Canterbury players celebrate after midfielder Paul Helmich, center, scored a goal during the first half Monday. Helmich’s goal turned out to be the game’s only goal.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018 1:00 am

Header lifts Canterbury

Reigning Class A state champs advance after surviving tight game

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

For a fraction of a second, the crowd hesitated as the Blackhawk Christian goalkeeper reached to the ground to stop a shot to the bottom of the goal.

But then several defenders put their hands on their heads in despair, and Canterbury's Paul Helmich turned on a dime and ran to midfield as his teammates congratulated him. 

Helmich's header had squirted under the hands of the Blackhawk keeper and into the net to put the Cavaliers (8-7-4) up 1-0 in the 28th minute. It was the only goal in the Class A boys soccer Blackhawk Christian sectional final, which had been postponed from Saturday to Monday evening due to rain, as Canterbury won 1-0 and claimed its 19th sectional title. 

“It kind of took a deflection and megged the keeper,” Helmich said, explaining that the ball had gone between the goalie's legs. “It was lucky enough to go in.”

Helmich's goal came off a corner kick by Justin Baeten. 

“We have a few tall guys, and so I put it right outside the 18 (yard box), and I hoped someone would get a head on it, and thankfully they did,” Baeten said. “I'm so happy he hit it in.”

That goal sends Canterbury to the regional semifinals at Taylor High School in Kokomo on Saturday to face the winner of the Lafayette Central Catholic Sectional. 

“Any time we can beat a Bob Freeborn-coached team, you know you've got a good day,” Canterbury coach Greg Mauch said after the match, referring to the Braves coach. “They're organized, they're aggressive, they're a good team. And our guys came out, we had a couple of real good days of training on Thursday and Friday, and even with the delay it carried over to tonight. So I'm really proud of the guys.”

Cavaliers senior keeper Clayton Perry blocked several shots to prevent a Braves equalizer. 

“Clayton's been critical to our success in the wins and the losses,” Mauch said. “He's had a phenomenal senior year. I haven't seen a better keeper in the state. He's a four-year starter, and he just keeps getting better. And he reads the game well, and the guys listen to him and he gives good directions. I couldn't ask anything more from him.”

Mauch said he “felt like the clock was stopped” for the tense final 15 minutes of the match. 

“It was a long 15 minutes, but I felt we defended pretty well,” Mauch said. “Clayton had things under control in the back. I thought we did the things we needed to do to see it out at the end and make the goal stand up.”

The Cavaliers are defending Class A state champions, but Mauch said the senior class, which includes Perry, Baeten and Helmich, entered this season in a tough spot after a large senior class graduated and sophomore Drake Goetz was killed in a crash last November. 

“It's been a journey for these guys over the course of the winter, and they've come out and provided very positive leadership and put their stamp on things and written their own chapter of Canterbury soccer,” Mauch said. 

Blackhawk Christian concludes its season with a record of 8-8-3. 

Also Monday: Taylor Rhinehart scored twice and Blake Byus, Jake Hege and Rocco Zirille each had one goal as Homestead (11-5-3) beat Huntington North (8-8-3) 5-1 to win the Class 3A Homestead Sectional. The Spartans face Hamilton Southeast on Saturday in the Kokomo Regional semifinal. 

West Noble beat Wawasee 5-0 in the Class 2A Angola Sectional final. The Chargers will play West Lafayette in the semifinal of the Mishawaka Marian Regional on Saturday. 

vjacobsen@jg.net