TIPPECANOE — Tippecanoe boys soccer coach Scott Downing knows better than anyone what it takes to put together back-to-back ‘Final Four’ runs.
He was part of it when the Red Devils did it back in 1989 and 1990.
And he was not entirely surprised that this year’s squad has accomplished the same.
In a D-II regional final Saturday at Tipp City City Park, the Red Devils defeated Summit Country Day 2-1.
Tippecanoe, 22-0, advances to play Albany Alexander at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Westerville North High School. SCD closes the season at 17-3-1.
“When I looked at this team at the start of the season,” Downing said, “I thought, yeah this team could make a run.”
And they are not satisfied yet.
“We want to show we are just as good as last year’s seniors,” Andrew Baileys, who scored what would be the game-winning goal, said. “We want to go back and win it all again.”
The game had started with Summit Country Day getting on the board first.
While there wasn’t a lot of contact, SCD’s Alex Waak was awarded a PK with 31:13 remaining in the opening half.
Tippecanoe goalie Clay Vaughn was able to deflect the PK, Waak followed it and put the ball in goal to make it 1-0.
“There was enough contact that the official had to make the call,” Downing said.
It didn’t take long for Tippecanoe to answer.
Less than four minutes in fact.
With 27:55 remaining in the half, Blake Heeley was fouled in the box.
Jake Smith took the PK and was perfect on the attempt to tie the score 1-1.
“I was a little nervous,” Smith said. “I am usually really good on PKs, but lately I have been missing them in practice. So, I was glad to see that one go in.”
Downing wasn’t nervous.
“It is tough for anyone to make them in practice on our goalie (Clay Vaughn),” Downing said with a smile. “I knew Jake would make it. It took us less than four minutes to come back and tie the game.”
In an intense battle, Jackson Cleather nearly got a goal when he charged and deflectedSCD goalie Jack Gerdsen’s kick from just outside the box.
It went just wide.
Tippecanoe was able to break the tie on another strong throw-in from Owen Hadden, with help from the Baileys.
Jonny Baileys was able to head it over to Andrew Baileys, who found the back of the net with 15:22 remaining in the half.
“Jonny (Baileys) was able to flick it over to me,” Andrew Baileys said. “And I was able to put it in the net. It is intense to get a big goal like that.”
Downing was impressed as well.
“Especially, with Andrew (Baileys) scoring,” Downing said. “I think that is just his second game back from an ACL injury.”
In what would be a scoreless second half, Tippecanoe had a number of chances to score.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” Downing said. “I think we had two shots go off the post and two more that we were cleared on the line.”
SCD had opportunities as well, but Vaughn and the defense were up to the challenge.
“They had chances as well,” Downing said. “That is a really good team we just beat. You have to give them a lot of credit.”
Now, Tipp will continue down the path to attempt a rare double — back-to-back state titles.
“The only other time we made the Final Four back-to-back was when coach Downing was playing,” Smith said. “We just need to keep working hard, improving and keep our focus — and hopefully we can bring home another ring.”
And continue another amazing Tippecaone boys soccer run.