Prep Soccer: Mercer topples three-time champ Danville in boys 12th Region semifinal
Landon Souder (10) of Mercer County celebrates with teammate Mason Angel (22) after Angel scored in the second half of the Titans' 4-1 win over Danville in a 12th Region Tournament semifinal Wednesday. (Clay Jackson / October 18, 2012)
On Wednesday night, the Titans got their revenge.
Angel scored three times, twice off assists from Landon Souder, and the Titans dominated the second half to defeat the Admirals 4-1 in a boys 12th Region Tournament semifinal at King Middle School.
The No. 6 Titans (20-3-1) advanced to tonight’s regional championship against West Jessamine, which defeated Lincoln County 3-2 in Wednesday’s other semifinal.
Mercer had already beaten Danville 6-1 three weeks ago, but it was last year’s loss that stuck with Mercer all season.
“You always think about the one you lost because you want to get the revenge,” Angel said. “I also thought about the other one a little bit, but mainly the one we lost.”
Souder said both games came into his mind as he prepared for Wednesday’s game.
“I got more fire from last year’s game,” he said. “But then this year’s game, I knew what we did and what we were capable of.”
The Titans built a 2-1 halftime lead, then held the Admirals (12-8-2) to no shots on goal over the final 40 minutes to end their streak of three straight regional titles.
Danville coach Brent Beauman said he felt good about his team’s play in the first half, but he knew what Mercer was capable of.
“Even being down at halftime, I thought if we just come out and play the exact same way in the first half, just tweak a little. I think sometimes we weren’t 100 percent committed to an attack. And I think if we could have done that, I think we could have gotten more chances. But in the second half, they really turned it on,” Beauman said. “They’re just a great team. Mason and Landon deserve everything they get, but if it wasn’t for their back line, ... that’s the best defense I’ve played against since I’ve been at Danville. Those guys are so organized and so committed to playing it, and that’s hard to break through.”
And it’s that type of play Mercer coach Matt Vogel wanted to see out of his team in the second half.
“In these games, the atmosphere is going to be different. Effort becomes very important. That’s something weve been preaching all season, and that was very crucial,” Vogel said. “Danville is a good team, they’re very well-coached and have good players, so we really made it a point of emphasis to come out as hard as we can and take it to them.
“And no matter what happens, we can live with it. But if you don’t come out and play hard, then you’re going to have regrets.”
It was scoreless until Angel put Mercer on the board with 22 minutes, 53 seconds left in the first half. After a corner kick, Souder got the ball near the right sideline and lofted a perfect cross pass to Angel near the goal. Angel made a move to get open and ripped a shot past Danville goalkeeper Matt Oster into middle of the net.
“That was a beautiful pass that set it up,” Angel said. “That was all him there.”
It was still 1-0 with 9:01 to go in the half when both Mercer’s Alex Bosse and Oster went for a ball about 20 yards away from the net. Bosse got there first and managed to get off a shot against the diving Oster that found its way into the goal and gave Mercer a 2-0 lead.
Danville came right back less than a minute later, as Cesar Barradas gathered a loose ball and put it past Mercer goalkeeper Slade Ransdell to trim the lead to 2-1.
But the Admirals had no chances after that, getting no shots on goal while Mercer added to its lead.
“Our defense has been one of our main things all year,” Souder said. “Just pressuring and covering, we just don’t let people get shots off.”
Angel scored again with 36:06 remaining when he took a long pass from Souder and beat Oster one-on-one. He closed out the Titans’ scoring with 2:54 to play off a pass from Bosse.
There was little in the way of celebration by Mercer on Wednesday, either after goals or at the end of the game. The regional final is where their dreams died last year, and they don’t want to let that happen again.
“I hope we can just keep our good run and keep going through it and ride it all the way out,” Souder said.
Mercer has already beaten West Jessamine three times this season, including a 4-0 win in the 46th District final last week, and has outscored the Colts 8-1. But Vogel wants his team to focus on only tonight, and how to win this game.
“I think we’re going to prepare for it like any other game. But we know we’re going to have to play and give every ounce of energy we have. No team is going to just come here and lay an egg,” he said. “At this point, all the teams here are quality teams, and if you don’t bring your ‘A’ game, it’s going to be a long day. So our focus is to play as best we can, recover as best we can and do everything we can to win.”