All throughout the postseason, Madison Central coach Brock Sutherland had a simple plan for his players to implement: Score early.
And it worked.
The Indians were able to get on the board quickly and put away their opposition on the way to a 28th District Tournament championship.
In the Indians’ rematch with East Jessamine in the 14th Region semifinal at Bellevue Tuesday, the Jaguars (18-4-2) took a page from the Central (13-7-1) book and walked away 2-0 winners.
“I told them before the game, we need to be up and ready early,” Sutherland said. “Since we beat them 2-1, I knew they were going to come out early. I just wanted to take their first 10 minutes and not get scored on and we’d be able to settle into the game. Right from the get-go, we weren’t ready. They were.”
The East attack came almost immediately.
The Jaguars occupied the Central side and earned a pair of corner kicks.
East finally found the back of the net thanks to a Sam Miller goal with just two minutes gone.
Ten minutes later, the Indians started to gain some momentum. They set up a couple crosses, but nothing came of it.
“We finally settled down and started playing our game and we got chances from it,” Sutherland said. “We missed two chances we should have put away that could have tied it and changed the whole complexion of the game.”
A pair of point-blank shots were turned away and then the Indians got their best chance of the night.
Zach Coltrain tore through the East defense and found open space in the box. He opted to cross instead of shoot and his pass was too long for Chris Browder.
Two minutes later, a Coy Taylor cross was cut off in front of the net and the Jaguars were able to counter attack.
The East cross was nearly knocked in by a Central defender but hit the post.
Despite the early flurry from East, Central evened up the total shots for the half at 6-6.
The second half was less uneven, with both teams finding attacks and countering until East got a goal from Zac Bray in the 50th minute.
The insurance goal allowed the Jaguars to rest easy, but it wasn’t the dagger it appeared to be.
“I felt like even after their second goal we still had plenty of time to get back into the match,” Sutherland said. “There was a 10 -15 minute span where we were just totally out of sync and just kicking the ball. If we could have come back after the second goal and played the way we’re capable of playing, it would have been different. But we didn’t, we just panicked and it was too late.”
Central never found the answer for the East defense. The Indians were blanked for just the fourth time this season.
The loss ends the season for the Indians, who had finished the year strongly with four straight wins before falling to the Jaguars. They had also won eight of their last 10.
“I just appreciate the seniors and all their effort throughout the year,” Sutherland said.
The Jaguars move on to the 14th Region title game in a rematch with Dunbar. The two teams take the field at Bellevue at 7 p.m. Thursday.