The Harrison High School boys soccer team rode its defense to yet another win last Saturday, but this time it was for a state championship berth.
The Raiders knocked off Penn 3-1 in penalty kicks following a scoreless regulation and overtime to advance.
Harrison, the ninth-ranked team in the state, will face the Center Grove Trojans for the state title at 6 p.m. Saturday at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium.
Tickets can be purchased at Harrison for $10 a piece.
There will also be a fan bus for the match which departs at 4:15 p.m. on Saturday and costs $5 to ride.
The game will be streamed live on ihsaatv.org.
When last Saturday’s game against Penn went to penalty kicks, senior goalkeeper Kyle Bugay knew that the Raiders’ season was resting on his shoulders.
Although he was beat on the first penalty kick, he didn’t let the pressure get to him.
“I knew I should’ve had it because I dove the right way, but it went right above my leg,” Bugay said. “I was just pretty pissed and wanted to get the next one.”
He did just that.
Bugay thwarted the next two attempts, sending Harrison to its first state championship game in team history.
“It’s pretty incredible,” said senior defender Matthew Roop. “We talked about it all summer. We realized that we made a semi-state run last year and that we were returning a lot of players and we felt we had a good chance. It’s kind of unreal still.”
Beating the fifth-ranked team in the nation won’t be easy an easy task, but it’s one that doesn’t intimidate the Raiders.
“I feel pretty confident,” said Roop. “We’ve battled with some of the best teams in the state.”
The Trojans, 20-2-1, defeated Carmel by a score of 2-1 to advance.
Harrison, 19-2-1, will continue to rely on team leaders Jakub Hall and Nash Walker.
Hall leads the team with 11 goals and Walker leads the team with 33 steals.
The Raiders’ strong defense will again be the focal point of their game plan, an aspect of the team that every player has come to accept and embrace.
“If they can’t score, they can’t win,” said Roop. “It just comes down to who can punch one in the back of the net.”