This is what the playoffs are all about. Two evenly matched teams battling and determined not to lose.
After all, one loss is all it takes to get eliminated from the state playoffs. In Friday's Class AAAA boys soccer quarterfinal matchup between host Lakeside and Lowndes, it was Lakeside (14-4-1) who survived to play at least another game, ousting the Vikings with a 1-0 victory.
Friday's victory marks Lakeside's first trip to the state semifinals,where they'll meet perennial state power Parkview on Tuesday night. Parkview defeated McEachern 2-0 on Friday night.
In one of the most intense and exciting games this season, Lakeside sophomore John Radeck booted the game's only goal with 21:18 left in the second half. Radeck's goal came off a perfectly executed assist from senior forward Rob Bohler, who overcame an ankle injury suffered in last Tuesday's game to come off the bench and help spark the Panthers.
"I got lucky," Radeck said. "The ball bounced out and I just put it home. I'm glad it went my way."
Lakeside completely dominated the first half but had no goals to show for it. Lowndes junior goalie Travis Morgan recorded 13 saves in the contest, including three in the first half that had appeared to be sure Lakeside goals.
With the game scoreless at halftime, Panther coach Dave Morgan challenged his team.
"I just told them they needed to lay it all on the line," Morgan said after the game. "Lowndes was playing a defensive game, and I told them the only way to score was to get the ball to the outside, then cross it to midfield. We didn't do that too well in the first half."
While Lakeside's defensive attack, led by brothers Prem and Siri Shetty, kept Lowndes off the scoreboard, the Panther offense finally executed Morgan's game plan with Bohler slipping a cross shot to Radeck, who caught Morgan off guard for the game's only goal.
"We just give all the glory to God, who helped us pull through this thing," said sophomore Jonathan Wilson. "I just wish Sam (Governski), who is sick, could have been here to enjoy this one. It was a close game and we did our job."
Reach Tim Morse at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org