PERRY, Iowa — It only takes one.
That is especially true for a Lewis Central boys soccer team that has now recorded nine consecutive shutouts and 16 on the season.
No. 9 Lewis Central (16-3) won the Class 2-A substate 8 semifinal 1-0 over Perry on Wednesday on the strength of junior Paul Devine’s penalty kick goal five minutes into the second half.
“That penalty kick changed the momentum of this game, of course,” Devine said. “Anything I can do for this team momentum changing, that is what I wear the captain’s armband for.”
Devine was able to get a step on his defender on a pass into the box and was taken down, setting up the game’s only score.
“My dad says sometimes I go down too easy, but when it gets me PKs I don’t really worry about that,” Devine said. “I know he didn’t really see me coming and I just had to give a 110 percent sprint. I knew I just had to get a touch before he did and I felt the contact.
“With club and high school I am the PK-taker and I want be PK-taker. I want the pressure.”
Senior goalkeeper Cole Jensen and his defense did the rest in turning back 11 Bluejays shots. The Titans will now look to earn their third trip to the state tourney and first since 1997.
Jensen didn’t have to make a multitude of saves, but he made all the tough ones.
“The biggest thing is just communication, I think,” Jensen said. “I am just making sure (teammates) are engaged in warm-ups, engaged during games, continuously talking to them on corners. They know what I demand and they do it well.”
The Titans changed formations shortly after the goal to be able to absorb Perry’s attack.
“Cole is the field general, but our backline is led by Easton Adams and Connor Williams and it is anchored in with Brandon Cline and Cole Drummond,” Lewis Central coach James Driver said. “With 22 minutes left in the game we dropped from our regular formation we ran all season to a 4-3-2-1. We had two holding midfielders as opposed to one. We were soaking up a lot of pressure in our normal formation anyway, so I figured we might as well throw an extra body back there to help.”
Perry nearly got the equalizer when Ever Tobar headed a cross in the box that Jensen had to go up to the crossbar to save.
“I got my feet set and reacted and was able to make the save,” Jensen said. “That was big.”
Lewis Central will face Harlan in the substate final Saturday at noon back in Perry. Harlan defeated Denison-Schleswig 2-1 Wednesday night.
The Bluejays dominated possession in most of the scoreless first half, outshooting the Titans 8-3. On a windy night, both teams had a chance to get on the scoresheet in the first 40 minutes, but could not get past the other defense.
“We knew the coin toss would decide a lot in the first half,” Driver said. “We didn’t win the toss and they took the wind, but the one thing is when you do so the second half we had the wind.”
Perry nearly scored when Mario Saldona shot on Jensen, but he was up to the task and turned away the rebound attempt as well.
The Titans’ best chance came with just under 13 minutes remaining when leading scorer Luis Espino gathered in a pass in the box and had the keeper beat before hitting the post.
Top-seeded Perry, which fell to the Titans 3-0 on May 11, started the season 7-0 before finishing its campaign with a 10-8 record.