Marshfield Columbus had Tyus Groos’ number during the regular season.
In a pair of regular season meetings, Groos, one of the top-five goal scorers in the state, had failed to find the back of the net against the Dons.
Pacelli’s senior striker certainly made up for it Thursday night in the most important game of the season between the Mid-State Soccer League adversaries.
Groos accounted for all four goals and Pacelli made program history by advancing to its first sectional championship game with a 4-2 victory over the Dons in WIAA Division 4 semifinal action at Scaffidi Field.
The Cardinals advance to meet Barron, a 2-0 winner over Cumberland, at 1 p.m. Saturday at Griese Park.
“It’s nice, (to have Groos) because whenever we get in trouble we can count on him to make something happen,” Pacelli junior midfielder Luke Yenter said.
“It feels good, but we still want to go to state and keep winning.”
Columbus coach Jeff Edwards credited much of the Dons’ success against Groos to a defender who was in charge of marking him all over the field.
That player was missing from the Columbus lineup Thursday, after receiving a red card in the regional final win over Gresham on Oct. 17.
“We missed that defender today, it would have been nice to have him,” said Edwards, refusing to give the missing defender’s name. “They’re a good team. We wish them (the Cardinals) the best.”
There was no question who the best player on the field was Thursday, although Groos had all sorts of help from Colin Jamison, who picked up a pair of assists, along with Yenter and Henry Petersen pushing forward.
On the first three goals, Groos utilized his quickness and jumped on a rebound that Dons keeper Evan Hansen was unable to control.
Hansen was under siege early and was called upon to make three point-blank saves in the opening 5 minutes of the match.
But Groos opened the scoring at 6 minutes, 48 seconds of the first half and then increased the lead to 2-0 with just less than 8 minutes left before halftime.
“They cleaned up around the net, and we weren’t able to,” Edwards said. “That’s a tough loss. We came in thinking we could beat them this time, and then they got a quick one (goal).”
The Dons never were able to get a handle on Groos, who increased his season goal total to 39.
He added two more goals in the second half, the last coming off a cross from Jamison to put the Cardinals up 4-0 less than 10 minutes into the second half.
“He’s an amazing athlete and that’s why he’s in the position he’s in. His job is to score goals,” Pacelli coach Jarrod Schlichter said. “But he doesn’t get the ball without the other guys (and girls), and then he has an ability to finish.”
Columbus put up a fight over the final 30 minutes of the half.
Gabe Ronan and Sean McCarthy found the back of the net 15 minutes apart late in the second half, but the hole was too deep for the Dons to climb out of.
Now the Cardinals are turning their attention to earning the first state berth in school history.
“We’re ready for it,” Schlichter said. “When you take in the fact we’ve never faced this team (Barron) before, we’re just going to use the game plan we have all season. I’m confident if we go in and play like we did tonight, there will be no issues.”
First half: 1. P, Tyus Groos, 6:48; 2. P, Groos (Colin Jamison), 32:33.
Second half: 3. P, Groos, 42:58; 4. Groos (Jamison), 48:03; 5. MC, Gabe Ronan (Ryan Dieringer), 54:40; 6. MC, Sean McCarthy, 69:39.
Saves: Marshfield Columbus (Evan Hansen) 8, Pacelli (Patrick Rath) 5.
Records: Pacelli 24-0-0; Marshfield Columbus 15-8-0.