LEXINGTON — The Minutemen can rinse the sour taste from their mouths Saturday afternoon.
Lexington will play Lima Shawnee for a regional championship and a berth in next week’s Division II state tournament at 5 p.m. Saturday at Marion’s Harding Stadium.
Shawnee ousted Lex in the regional championship game last fall and that 2-1 overtime decision — played at Lexington — has been stuck in the Minutemen’s craw for the better part of a year.
“After last year, at our home turf, it really sucked,” said senior Gage Potter, who scored the game-winning goal in Wednesday’s 1-0 regional semifinal victory over Columbus Watterson. “A lot of the guys who played in the game last year have very bad memories of that.”
Lexington (15-1-4) and Shawnee (19-1-0) have met in the regular season every year since 2017. Lex has won three straight regular season meetings and owns a 3-2 advantage in the series, including a 1-0 win in late-August — Shawnee’s only loss.
This will be the third straight year the sides have met in the regional championship match. Lex won 3-2 in 2019 before falling last year.
“I was texting with Ryan (Shawnee coach Ryan Quatman) a couple days ago and said I’d love to see you on Saturday just half joking around,” Lex coach Peter Them said after Wednesday’s win over Watterson. “And here we go. We’re going to see them again.”
Lex is in the regional final thanks to its record-setting defense. The Minutemen have a school-record 13 shutouts this season, including Wednesday’s win over a high-scoring Watterson side. Defenders Jack Depperschmidt, Terrance Corbin Jacob Hathaway and Nathan Cramer were able to keep Watterson All-Ohio forward Trent Maisano in check.
“He maybe had two shots. I think we made him a non-factor,” Them said. “Defensively, our shape was really good. I think they were waiting for us to make that one full mistake and I think we made a couple half mistakes and then (keeper) Garet Weaver was there to clean stuff up on the back line.”
A senior who served as Lex’s back-up keeper last fall, Weaver was under siege for much of the second half Wednesday. He was quick to credit his defenders.
“My back line saves me. The credit really goes to them,” keeper Garet Weaver said. “They protect me a lot.”
The defense will have to be at its best Saturday. Shawnee’s Austin Miller has scored 28 goals, including two in Shawnee’s 8-0 win over Sandusky Perkins in the regional semifinal. Sam Tenwalde had a hat trick in the win over the Pirates and has 19 goals on the season.
“We’ve got a really good team, but a lot of guys who are starting this year didn’t get to start in the past,” Weaver said. “For all of us it feels fresh. It’s exciting.”