Warren Central is moving on.
The Dragons, who hosted Marshall County on Tuesday evening in the Boys Soccer State Tournament Semi-State 1 at Joe Hood Field, put together a successful performance and earned a 3-1 win to keep their season alive.
“It feels amazing,” Warren Central coach Aaron Ray said of being one of the final eight teams in the state still playing. “The effort the guys put together – I couldn’t have asked for more. They were supportive of each other, they did everything together.
“So, to be here – last eight with a shot to go to Lexington – that’s what we’ve worked for all season. I’m glad we were able to get the win today to do that.”
Central (20-4-1 overall) led 1-0 at halftime and added two more goals to its side of the scoreboard in the second half to come out on top. Ahmed Delic scored two of the Dragons’ goals, while Kaung Hein recorded the other.
With Warren Central’s win, it moves on to the quarterfinal round and will host the Madisonville-North Hopkins/Daviess County winner at a date and time TBD.
“We’re gonna approach it with the same level of intensity,” Warren Central goalkeeper Erick Nzoriabala said regarding the next game. “We have the support of our fans, as you could see today, so it’s gonna give us more momentum to go forward and go as far as we can.”
Neither side could find an offensive rhythm through the first 20 minutes.
Marshall County had a solid look in the 19thminute on a shot from the left side of the goal, but the attempt bounced off the left goal post and things remained scoreless.
Warren Central recorded the first goal of the game nearly 11 minutes later as Hein scored on a shot from the left side. Fahrudin Alic ran deep into the Marshals’ box, and his cross was met by Hein’s right foot – which was enough for the ball to get past the goalkeeper and put the Dragons up 1-0.
“We got that first one to go in,” Ray said. “Once that went in, the guys got a bit of extra confidence.”
Hein had another chance to add to the Dragons’ lead with just three minutes left in the half with a hard, quick shot from the left side of the box, but the Marshall County goalkeeper made a great save to keep the score at 1-0 at the break.
Central wasted no time getting going in the ensuing half.
Just 1:09 into the frame, Delic scored his first goal of the night to double the Dragons’ lead to 2-0 at the 38:51 mark. Delic took control of the ball, ran into the left side of the box and sent a hard shot through the back of the net.
“It gives you a big boost,” Nzoribala said of being able to score the first goal of the half. “It gives you confidence in your team and confidence in yourself, really. It gave me a big confidence boost – and I was able to play good.”
Marshall County responded with 15:19 remaining as Drake May scored off a header that was set up by a corner kick to cut Warren Central’s deficit to 2-1.
Delic’s second goal, this one coming in the 70thminute, helped the Dragons regain their two-goal advantage – and they held that same cushion from there to move on to the next round.
“We’ve just gotta keep working together, keep the same intensity and score goals,” Delic said.