Columbia made the Triad Knights pay for their mistakes Thursday.
The third-seeded Eagles converted twice after Triad, seeded fifth, was unable to clear loose balls from its box, and the goals were the difference in a 2-0 victory in the semifinals of the Class 2A Columbia Regional.
Senior Noah Jorns made it 1-0 at 38 minutes, 50 seconds, blasting in a shot from the right side of the box. Junior Jake Bridges extended the lead to two when he rifled in a goal from the left side of the box off a pass from sophomore Riley Hubler at 52:41.
“There was a decent amount of time left on the clock when we got the second one, and they were putting a lot of pressure on us. Triad’s a good team,” Columbia coach Jason Mathenia said. “They beat Waterloo last week to shake up their entire (Mississippi Valley) conference standings. They’re not a pushover by any means.
“But our goals, Noah Jorns had so much composure to bring it down and hit it home the way he did ... He struck it very well. Jake did well tonight, too. That (goal) doesn’t start unless he gets that ball that Riley Hubler was able to put to him. Riley gave him a great ball and he put it where he needed to put it. He hit a good shot.”
Columbia (16-2-4), the Class 1A state champion in 2014, will play top-seeded Waterloo (16-3-2), the Class 2A state champion in 2015, for the regional title at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Bulldogs defeated Alton Marquette 2-0 in the othe semifinal Thursday. Columbia and Waterloo did not meet in the regular season.
Both semifinals were scheduled for Wednesday, but were postponed by rain.
Knights close season
Triad, which entered the semifinal on a four-game winning streak that included a victory over Waterloo, finished 12-9. The Knights didn’t score, but their offense, led by senior Chase Jones, was dangerous enough to keep Columbia on its toes.
Knights coach Jim Jackson, however, lamented the two balls Triad was unable to clear.
“Both shots were beautiful shots,” Jackson said. “But they were things we talked about in practice. Usually games like this are won on a mistakes. (It’s) who capitalizes on a mistake and who makes the least amount of mistakes. They hit two really nice shots. We had opportunities.”
Triad’s best chance came less than five minutes into the second half, when Columbia still was nursing its 1-0 lead.
Knights junior Jaden Deatherage had a header in a crowd from about 10 yards. The ball was headed inside the right post, but Eagles sophomore Charlie Harres saved it off the line.
“It looked like it was going in,” said Jackson, who was proud of his team’s effort. “We told our kids, ‘You don’t have anything to lower your heads about. Keep your heads high.’ We gave them a good game. They’re ranked No. 1 in the area for a reason. They played well. They had the experience and it showed tonight. (But) I think they respected our team.”