LEXINGTON — Ryan Parker found himself in unfamiliar territory Wednesday evening.
Lexington’s All-American had more space than he knew what to do with and all the time in the world.
Running virtually unmarked for much of the night, Parker scored a goal and had an assist as the Minutemen blanked Granville 3-0 in the Division II regional semifinals at Lexington High School.
Lex (17-3-0) will host Lima Shawnee at 3 p.m. Saturday in the regional championship match. Shawnee beat Toledo Central Catholic 3-0 in Wednesday’s other regional semifinal.
So how does one of the top players in Division II find himself all alone in the attacking third?
“To be honest with you I don’t even know if they really knew who he was,” Lexington coach Peter Them said. “I don’t know how you don’t know who he is. The amount of room and space for him was amazing. You don’t really see that at this level.
“Some of the film that we saw and some of the things we knew, there was space in front of their back three. We just had to figure out how to exploit it.”
Parker did just that. He opened the scoring in the 27th minute, taking a pass from Teddy Togliatti and accelerating past three Granville defenders before sneaking a shot past a diving Granville goalkeeper Conor Male.
“We knew Granville liked to push a lot forward and that would give a ton of space and me, (Trevor) Fehr and Gage (Potter) had a lot of space,” Parker said. “Honestly it felt great to go one-on-one against their defenders.”
Parker would add an assist just six seconds before the half. He raced the length of the field down the left side then sent a pass into the box, where Lucas Starling flicked it past Male for a 2-0 Lex lead.
“It was really nice to go up 2-0 right before halftime,” Parker said. “It really gave us a confidence boost.”
“You can’t ask for a better momentum swing,” Them said.
Lexington put it away with 27:31 remaining in the second half when Togliatti scored on a penalty kick after Granville was called for a handball in the box. Male blocked an initial attempt by Potter, but Lex was awarded a second PK after the Granville keeper left his line early. Them switched shooters and Togliatti buried it for a 3-0 lead.
“We knew if we got a third one early in the second half, some things would open up for us,” Them said. “I told Gage it wasn’t necessarily pulling him off the PK. It was more messing with the keeper.
“I think the third goal definitely broke them.”
Lex will have the chance to defend its regional championship Saturday against Lima Shawnee. The Minutemen beat Shawnee 6-2 in late-August.
“We’ve got to be able to play our game,” Them said. “The boys are excited to play.”