Southwestern’s goal all season has been a return to the Class A boys soccer regional championship game to finish it right.
After losing in the final seconds of the 2020 championship game to Lutheran, the Class A, No. 14-ranked Spartans will get another chance to create program history.
On Thursday, Southwestern def. No. 17 Providence Cristo Rey, 2-1 to secure a berth in Saturday’s regional championship against Cascade. Southwestern has never won a regional title in boys soccer.
Jordan Jones got the Spartans (11-4-2) started quickly Thursday in a game played at Indianapolis Bishop Chatard High School. Off an assist from Conner Jewell, Jones scored less than three minutes into the match.
Just over 10 minutes later, the Wolves (12-2) answered when Luis Rodriguez scored off a Demian Rojas assist to tie the match.
With eight minutes left in the first half, Aiden Hartsell delivered what turned out to be the game winner with a long-distance strike set up by Conner Gooch. The goal was Hartsell’s program-record 45th of the season.
Both teams were held scoreless in the second half. Southwestern goalkeeper Eli Fix finished with seven saves.
Southwestern returns to Knightstown Saturday for a 2 p.m. game with 18th-ranked Cascade (12-5-1). The Cadets defeated Centerville Thursday in penalty kicks after a scoreless two halves and overtime.
Cascade is low-scoring with just 32 goals this season – 13 less than Hartsell. Sophomore Ethan Edwards leads the Cadets with 14 goals this season; two more players have five goals apiece.
The Cadets and Spartans had one common opponent this season – Lutheran. Cascade defeated the Saints, 2-1 on Aug. 28. Southwestern played Lutheran to a scoreless tie on Sept. 16.
The regional champion advances to the Oct. 23 semistate game at either Evansville North or Seymour.
Third-ranked Providence (13-3-3), a 3-0 winner over Southwestern (Hanover) Thursday, and 8th-ranked Forest Park (14-4-2), a 4-2 winner over 5th-ranked South Knox, meet in the other southern Indiana regional championship game at Providence.
Providence and Forest Park played to a 1-1 draw on Sept. 21.