CLYDE — The clock struck midnight on another storybook season for Lexington on Wednesday.
Still, the way coach Peter Them sees it, the 2-1 loss to St. Marys Memorial in the Division II regional semifinals shouldn’t tarnish everything the Minutemen accomplished in 2023.
After all, Lex added another Ohio Cardinal Conference championship to the trophy case and won its sixth straight district title.
“We had a great run,” said Them, who became the program’s winningest coach after last week’s win over Norwalk in the district finals. “(We had) 13 seniors who have bled for this program. They’ve done everything they possible can.
“There’s a lot of emotions right now. It’s very difficult. We’ll take some time and regroup.”
Lexington (15-4-1) took the lead in the 34th minute when Will Perkins beat St. Marys keeper Cayden Ballweg to the back post. The momentum was short-lived, however, as Cody Birt scored the equalizer less than a minute later.
“We lost track of that kid and he put a great finish on,” Them said. “Their first goal was their first legit shot. The kids got free and buried one.”
Birt scored the game-winner late in the second half. He took a pass from Braden Keller near, settled the ball with a touch and rocketed a shot past diving Lex keeper Nolan Steward with 5:55 remaining.
“I saw an open shot and I took it,” Birt said. “It just feels great.”
Lexington outshot St. Marys Memorial 12-11, but had trouble maintaining possession in the midfield.
“I don’t think we played our game. I think we fell apart a little bit,” Them said. “They came out and played hard. They were athletic and they were physical. They do a lot of things well.
“I thought we prepared well. That’s on me as a coach.”
The Roughriders (19-2-1) will play Richfield Revere for a regional title at 7 p.m. Saturday in Bowling Green. Revere beat Maumee 5-0 in Sandusky on Wednesday.
St. Marys Memorial is in the regional final for just the second time in program history.
“It’s awesome,” Birt said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”