Owls blank Stars, advance to sectional championship match

Special nights in October are hard to come by, a fact no team realizes more than Seymour’s boys soccer team.

That’s why even a diehard realist like Owls coach Matt Dennis couldn’t contain his smile following his team’s convincing 3-0 win over Bedford North Lawrence in Wednesday’s semifinal round of the Seymour Sectional.

The Owls (7-7-1) grabbed the lead late in the first half, then clinched the win with two more scores late in the second half to advance to Saturday’s championship game against Floyd Central.

Wednesday’s result is Seymour’s first sectional win since 2017 and the team’s first finals berth since 2015.

“It’s good to leave the field feeling good,” a happy Dennis said. “It’s been a while. It’s a good position to be in, obviously. We had a fortunate draw, in that we got the bye. The fact that we got the bye meant we got those two extra days. We were able to concentrate on one opponent.”

Floyd Central (11-4-3) defeated New Albany, 3-0, in Wednesday’s other semifinal. The Highlanders downed Seymour, 3-1, a month ago during the regular season.

Seymour’s three-goal win over Bedford backed up its 1-0 victory a week ago over the Stars.

David Polbito gave Seymour the lead with 4:53 remaining in the first half when he opportunistically gained control of a free ball on the right side of Bedford’s penalty box. The junior then sent a shot past BNL goalkeeper Brayden Miller into the left side netting.

“I thought in the first half, we were about even with them,” Dennis said. “Honestly, I thought our goal was against the run of play and they had the better spell of the ball, but I knew we had more to come.”

To Dennis’ point, Bedford outshot Seymour during the game, 8-4, but the Owls made the most of their chances.

Seymour preserved its one-goal lead for the next 35 minutes before breaking open the game with two scores on set pieces within a three-minute stretch.

On a restart by senior Sam Chandler following a Bedford yellow card, fellow senior Brody Unterseher pounded in a loose ball in front of BNL’s net to double the Owls’ lead.

Moments later, Jake Loebker’s free kick into far side of the Stars’ penalty box found Martin Sebastian, whose sharp shot beat Miller and gave Seymour full control with 8:38 remaining.

Though the offense enjoyed a productive night, the defense continued it run of strong play. Wednesday’s win was the Owls’ third consecutive shutout and sixth of the season.

In fact, the back line of Jordan Ritter, Loebker, Unterseher and Jovany Martinez, along with defensive midfielders Logan Westfall and Sam Chandler helped senior goalie William Smith make history.

With Wednesday’s shutout, Smith’s career shutout total reached 20, tying the school record set by Dan Keinath (1995-98).

“We’ll be back here under the lights on Saturday night,” Dennis said. “Hopefully, we’ll have a great crowd. We had a good look at (Floyd Central) in the first game tonight. I have a lot of work to do. It’s going to be a late night but one I’m going to enjoy, that’s for sure.”