As one of Harrison top defensive midfielders, Halid Apoudjak has not found himself in a position to score often.
His goal with 4:06 remaining Monday night allowed the Raiders to capture a 2-1 victory over Lafayette Jeff in the opening round of the Class 2A Lafayette Jeff Sectional at Scheumann Stadium.
Lafayette Jeff (1-11) took the lead with 19:19 to play on Chris Gaeta’s goal. The Bronchos’ emotional outburst after the goal seemed to punctuate the passion on the field.
Both teams got into a brief shoving match at the 27:00 mark of the second half.
Harrison (10-4-2) tied the game within a minute. Austin Webb took a pass from Spencer Maley and managed to get the ball by Jeff goalkeeper Alejandro DelReal.
“It was one of their first real good opportunities and they did a nice job of putting it away,” Webb said of Jeff’s goal. “I know I got scared at that point. That was kind of a wakeup call for us. We can’t let that happen all the time, but a win is a win.”
Jeff coach Nate Kelsey said the brief lead was an opportunity that got away after the Bronchos played outstanding defense in the first half.
“That was a heck of a performance by both teams,” Kelsey said. “We thought we had it there for a second, and it slipped away from us at the end. They came on strong the last 15 minutes of the first half, and when we held them I thought we had the momentum.”
Apoudjak found an opening near the top of the penalty box and scored what proved to be the game winner.
“I was overwhelmed,” Apoudjak said. “It was my first goal of the season but it was the great time to score it. I don’t get a chance to go up that much, but it was under 10 minutes left and I thought I would push it up. I worked on it a lot in practice.”
Harrison coach Bryan Clouse said he didn’t expect the match to play out much differently given the rivalry.
“I’ve seen a lot of maturity in our guys about midway through the season,” Clouse said. “We’ve had such a tough road in our conference. It was nice to see guys respond once again. These sectionals are a lot of emotional games. Whenever we knock heads against these teams, it’s always interested.”
Harrison will take on Frankfort (12-5) in the first game of the sectional semifinals at Scheumann Stadium at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Frankfort avenged a 3-2 loss to Twin Lakes last Thursday with a 2-1 victory in the second game.
Harrison beat Frankfort 1-0 in September on a Nestor Sededji goal with less than three minutes to go. McCutcheon will battle West Lafayette in the second sectional semifinal.
“We’re going to give it all we got,” Frankfort coach Olegario Martinez said about the rematch with Harrison.
Dennis Mejia and Evan Giebel scored in thefirst 18 minutes to give the Hot Dogs control. Twin Lakes’ Bailey Carter punched in a goal at the 34:19 mark, but Twin Lakes could not mount consistent pressure against Frankfort to get the tying score.