WESTERVILLE — Would you expect anything different?
For the 47th consecutive time, the Tippecanoe boys soccer team left the field without a loss Wednesday night.
This time, the opponent was Albany Alexander and it was a berth in the D-II state title match Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium was on the line.
It didn’t matter as Tipp rolled to a 4-1 victory.
The Red Devils went 23-0-1 last year in winning the D-II state title — the tie coming against Alter in regular season play.
Wednesday’s win upped the Red Devils record to 23-0 on the season and set up a rematch with Howland — who Tipp defeated 1-0 a year ago in the title game, at 4 p.m. Saturday.
“It is incredible,” senior Andrew Baileys said. “To be undefeated and going to the state championship game for the second straight year. I am sure (Howland will be looking for revenge), but we will be ready.”
It might be tough to remember the last time Tipp lost a soccer game.
That would be Oct. 31, 2018 in a D-II district final at Summit Country Day.
“What are we up to now, 47 games or something like that,” Tippecanoe coach Scott Downing said. “I have never been associated with anything like this.”
In the regional semifinal Wednesday, Tipp was in control from the outset.
The Red Devils took the early 1-0 lead at the 24:25 mark when Jackson Kleather headed the ball into the goal on an assist from Owen Hadden.
“Jackson (Kleather) did a great job finishing with the header” Downing said.
The Spartans then answered with a goal from Austin Shields at the 20:19 mark to tie the game 1-1.
“That gave them a little momentum at the time,” Downing said.
But, it didn’t last long as Tippecanoe goalie Clay Vaughn had five saves, while Spartans goalie Clayton Williams was defending a barrage of shots all night.
Andrew Baileys took a ball from Evan Stonerock and lofted the ball over Williams and into the net with 12:50 remaining in the half to put Tipp up 2-1.
“That was an amazing volley,” Downing said. “Just watching the arch on the ball was it was going towards the net. That was a perfect volley.”
The always dangerous throw-ins of Hadden led to another goal late in the first half.
It went deep into the box and Stonerock headed it over the goalie and John Miller headed it into and empty net to make it 3-1 with 5:23 to go in the half.”
“John (Miller) did a good job finishing on that,” Downing said.
That was more than enough for Vaughn and the defense.
“We didn’t really do a lot with the sides,” Downing said. “But, we did a good job of keeping everyone marked.”
Tippecanoe was constantly on the attack in the second half.
“We actually missed a lot of opportunities to score,” Downing said.
But, Tipp added one goal to the final score when Blake Heeley headed a perfect corner kick from Jake Smith into the net to make the final score 4-1.
“Blake (Heeley) was a little banged up tonight,” Downing said. “But, he was able to use his head on that one.”
So, how concerned was Downing about Tippecanoe looking past Alexander to a rematch with Howland?
“I think the way we approached it is they (Albany Alexander) were the road block to keep us from getting there.”
And Downing knows Howland will have plenty of motivation Saturday.
“Of course (they will be looking to even the score from a year ago),” he said. “You just have to go out, hope your defense holds up and hopefully sneak in a goal or two. Ultimately, it comes down to the players. They are the ones that control what happens on the field.”
And for more than two years, that has been an unbeatable formula.