Badin High School girls soccer coach Todd Berkely was used to playing mad scientist.
On Halloween, he had to boost it up even more when two more players came down sick right before the start of their Division II regional semifinal against Tippecanoe on Tuesday night at Chaminade Julienne’s Roger Glass Stadium.
“It’s patchwork … just need some glue and more tape,” Berkely said. “The effort was there the whole time. You could just tell we were off in our transitioning.”
While the youthful Rams were battling, the 1-0 win for Tippecanoe was part of a three-year journey for promise to become reality.
The Red Devils were 13-2-1 heading into the postseason last year, but were bumped out in the second round for the second consecutive season.
“We’ve got three seniors who were freshmen when we went (to the regional finals) in 2014,” Tippecanoe coach Brandon Baker said after his squad improved to 16-3-1. “It has been a process for us, but one they all came together and worked on.”
After defending and weathering most of the storm, Tippecanoe’s Lauren Lester found the ball at her feet in the middle of the chaos in the box after a rebound and was able to poke it into the back of the net for a 1-0 advantage with 38:06 remaining in the second half.
“We were doing a good job of weathering the storm,” Berkely said after his team finished 12-6-2. “I thought we were dangerous, but we were not dangerous consistently.”
Badin’s timing was just off in the final third all night long.
The Rams had several give-and-go opportunities and crosses on frame, but couldn’t find the connecting end on the other end.
Badin had the night’s first shot on goal on a long shot off a free kick that forced the Tipp keeper to make a punch save. It kept the ball out of the top corner with 15:16 left in the opening half.
The Red Devils had their only scoring opportunity in the first half with 10:22 remaining when Mickayla Kowalski had to come out and make a diving save. The ball ricocheted to another Red Devil, but was cleared off the line in a hectic box.
“We knew coming in what we needed to do,” Baker said. “We needed to dominate the outside and get that forward possession to make things happen. We know at this point it is also good to have luck on your side.”
For Badin, the tournament run was a good learning experience for a group with just five seniors who had to be experimented with each night out due to injuries, especially in their first season in Division II after being in D-III.
“You never like to lose,” Berkely said. “But if you take the totality of their work and look at the progress they made and how far they have come, they have no reason to hang their heads.”
Tippecanoe will meet Indian Hill for the regional championship Saturday.