The Lakota East Boys Soccer Program turned back the clock (literally) last Saturday at the 2019 Regional Final at Princeton. The Hawks “partied like it was 1999” winning their programs 2nd Regional Title, defeating #1 seeded Moeller 2-1 and claiming a berth in the Division 1 State Final Four. The Hawks displayed the same resiliency that has been a “trade-mark” of their postseason run, falling behind and then rallying to notch a “signature win” in Thunderhawk Soccer history.
The lone goal of the first half came in the 23rd minute when the Crusaders scored on a crossing pass. The lead lasted until there were just less than 25 minutes to go in the contest when Lakota East midfielder Ethan Seppi found the net off of a throw-in from senior Brady Shapiro.
About 12 minutes later, a Thunderhawk corner kick by Parker Crowell found the head of forward Nolan Earl to make it 2-1 Lakota East. Moeller applied the pressure late in the game but the Lakota East defense held up and the Crusaders suffered just their second loss of the year and were denied a return to State after finishing 2nd in 2018.
East’s win on Saturday was the team’s 12th consecutive (school record) and assured them a program-best record, which currently stands at 16-3-3.
Almost 20 years ago to Saturday’s date, the East boys upset then #1 seeded and top-ranked Centerville to claim the 1999 Regional Championship and send their team to the only State Final Four appearance in school history. East Head Coach Jeremy Hilen was a member of that squad with his brother Jamie that went 16-6-1 and lost in the State Semi-Final game to Westerville North.
“It’s such a great feeling, it’s hard to describe,” Lakota East coach Jeremy Hilen said of the narrow victory. “We deserve this moment. That was a great team we just beat. It’s been 20 years since we got to lift a regional trophy and they deserve it.”
Lakota East advances to play the Powell Olentangy Liberty (18-2-1) who shut out Worthington Kilbourne, 5-0 on Saturday to punch their ticket the Division 1 State Semifinal. The Thunderhawks and Liberty tangle at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6 at Xenia High School.
The winner will earn an appearance against either Cleveland St. Ignatius or Media HS in the Ohio Division I state championship game to be played on Sunday, Nov. 10 at MAPFRE Stadium (home of the Columbus Crew).
CLICK HERE for a video interview with East head coach Jeremy Hilen