Luke Roberts

Lexington's Luke Roberts looks for an open teammate during last week's Division II district championship match against Ontario at Clear Fork High School.

LEXINGTON — Even by its own lofty standards, the Lexington boys soccer program has outdone itself proud.

The Minutemen will take on Columbus Watterson in the Division II regional semifinals at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Marion Harding High School. Lex is making its fourth consecutive Sweet 16 appearance, extending the program record it established last season.

“I almost didn’t want to talk about it. It’s like a no-hitter. You don’t want to bring it up,” Lexington coach Peter Them said after the Minutemen knocked off Richland County rival Ontario in last week’s district final at Clear Fork High School. “It’s one of those things you dream about. You look back and see the fantastic programs that have done it. To put ourselves in that atmosphere, I’m kind of speechless.

“Last year when we won our third (district title) in a row, it was the first time. We’ve won some doubles here and there, but to win three and now four, it’s a first for the program.”

That the Minutemen (14-1-4) are back in the Sweet 16 comes as no great surprise. That Lex reached the regional tournament thanks largely to an offensive attack that managed just five goals in its first six matches is, well, a bit of shock.

Through its first 10 matches of the regular season, Lex averaged 1.5 goals per game and was shut out three times. Since then, the Minutemen have scored 84 goals in nine matches and have outscored four tournament opponents by a combined score of 41-4.

“We’ve evolved,” Them said. “At the beginning of the season we just weren’t connecting. We weren’t putting all the pieces together.

“To put all the pieces together feels great. We’re cooking at the right time.”

Alex Depperschmidt scored three goals in last week’s 6-3 win over Ontario in the district final.

“Our coaches made a few changes in our formation, so that kind of helped us out,” Depperschmidt said. “Another part is our defense. It gives us a lot of confidence as attackers going forward that if we mess up, our defense is right there to help us.”

As good as the attack has been recently, defense has been Lex’s calling card all season long. The Minutemen have allowed just 11 goals in 19 matches and have 12 shutouts on the season.

Watterson advanced with a 4-3 win over Granville on Saturday at New Albany High School and has won seven in a row. The Eagles haven’t been to the regional tournament since 2014, when they reached the Final Four. Watterson was state runner-up in 2013.

“We expect a great match,” Them said. “We are playing well and the boys are confident, but we’ve got to go play the game.”

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I have covered high school sports in Richland County since 2000. Email him at curt@richlandsource.com or follow him on Twitter: Follow @curtjconrad on twitter.

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