Brebeuf’s Jake Yerkes, left, celebrates with teammates after he scored the game’s only goal, with the Orioles’ goalie away from the goal in the middle of the second half, as the Braves defeat Avon in their boys soccer regional semifinal game at North Central High School in Indianapolis on Thursday, October 16, 2014. Others showman are, from left, Michael Keller, Naim Johnson and Evan Stout. Brebeuf will play Cathedral on Saturday in the regional final.
Brebeuf Jesuit senior forward Jake Yerkes saw an opening and took it.
As the Avon defender passed the ball to goalie Tyler Shannon in the box, Yerkes intercepted the ball as it hit Shannon’s feet and fired from about 15 yards out to score the game’s only goal with 19:53 to play.
Yerkes’ second-half heroics propelled the Braves past second-ranked Avon, 1-0, in Thursday’s Class 2A regional soccer semifinal game at North Central.
Brebeuf (16-4), ranked No. 11, will face Cathedral, who beat Westfield 2-1 in overtime in Thursday’s other game, in the final at 3 p.m. Saturday.
“It was instincts,” Yerkes said of going for the ball. “I was able to get to it and score. It was lucky.”
For Yerkes, it was his 25th — and, certainly, most important — goal of the season.
“This means everything,” he said. “They beat us 4-0 (in regionals) last year, and everybody wanted this game.”
The Orioles (17-2-1), last year’s state runner-up, failed to capitalize on several scoring chances, especially in the first few minutes of the game. They had a couple scoring chances in the final 10 minutes, but weren’t able to make a serious threat in the closing few minutes.
Avon’s best opportunity, perhaps, came just two minutes into the game when junior midfielder Logan Hatter fired a shot into the arms of Brebeuf goalie Austin Bodner.
“During the first 10 to 15 minutes, we were getting everything we wanted,” Avon coach Phil Schmidt said. “If not for their goalie, it could have been two or three to nothing.”
“Brebeuf came out and played well in the second half,” he added. “So give them credit. … They were able to make a play.”
Brebeuf coach Carlos Zavaleta’s team, meanwhile, continues to make history. The Braves have already recorded the most wins in the program’s history and will now look to capture their first regional title.
“In the first half, we were so nervous and couldn’t match their energy,” Zavaleta said. “If we stayed even in the first half, I thought our game would surface in the second half. Our nerves settled down once we put pressure on them.”
“(Yerkes) has been our bread and butter when it comes to scoring, but we adjusted it (later in the season) to when we got the ball to him, he would get support, and the support was great,” he added.
As they usually do, the Braves switched goalies at halftime, with Bodner, a senior, making six saves in the first half and senior Sam Mohr collecting four in the second.
For Avon, it’s the end of a historic run that saw its seniors capture three sectional titles, a semistate title and the winningest record ever in a four-year span.
“It’s been a great group of boys,” Schmidt said. “It’s tough to know I won’t coach them again.”