LEXINGTON — It wasn’t the first time Ontario’s Brennan Blaising celebrated with a back flip, but his head-over-heels exhibition had never felt so sweet.
Blaising scored the game-winning goal with 22:33 remaining in the second half as third-seeded Ontario knocked off No. 2 Vermilion, 2-1, in the nightcap of a Division II district semifinal doubleheader Monday evening at Lexington High School.
The Warriors (12-5-2) will play Lexington for the district title at 5 p.m. Thursday at Lexington. Lex beat Huron 3-0 in Monday’s early game. The Warriors lost at Lexington, 1-0, in August in the season-opener for both teams.
Connor McCauley triggered the game-winning sequence with a nifty pass to Blaising. The junior midfielder took care of the rest.
“Connor was dribbling up and he had two people on him and I backed out,” Blaising said. “He made eye contact and he passed and I shot it and made it.”
And what about that victory celebration?
“I was waiting for quite a while to do it,” Blaising said of his back flip. “It’s getting to be big games now, so I might as well celebrate with it.
“I’ve done it plenty of times, but this was a really big game.”
The Warriors got on the board first on a Vermilion own goal with 20:26 to play in the opening half. Riley Lamport took a corner kick that was headed into the goal by a Vermilion defender.
“To take the early lead was big,” Ontario coach Chris McClenathan said. “I feel bad for the kid that happens to. Thankfully, we were on the other end.”
Ontario led 1-0 at half before the Sailors (14-2-2) equalized early in the second half. Logan Penton’s penalty kick was blocked by Ontario keeper Matt Weaver but Penton followed his shot and knocked in the rebound.
It was the only blemish on the evening for Weaver, who was under siege for most of the evening.
“We would have liked to keep the clean sheet,” Weaver said. “It feels good to be back there and make some saves.
“In the second half it got pretty busy back there.”
Ontario knocked Vermilion out of the tournament in the district semifinals last year.
“They are a very good team,” McClenathan said. “We saw them last year, but they lost quite a bit from last year. They were even better than we expected.”