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Frankfort boys team wins back-to-back soccer sectionals

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CHAMPIONSHIP POSE: The Frankfort boys soccer team after winning Saturday’s 2018 IHSAA 2A Boys Sectional in Lebanon.
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BALL CONTROL: Frankfort’s Edgar Fores Quintanilla controls the ball against Crawfordsville defenders Javier Hernandez (4) and Eric Cifuentes during Saturday’s soccer sectional championship in Lebanon.
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ALREADY MADE: Hot Dogs goaltender Daniel Montes broke out a “Back to Back” shirt shortly after Frankfort won its second consecutive soccer sectional in Lebanon on Saturday.
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FAN APPRECIATION: Frankfort team members led by Manual Garcia receive congratulations after winning the Lebanon sectional on Saturday night as they slapped hands with fans who attended the game.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Frankfort won its second consecutive Class 2A boys sectional title on Saturday night thanks in part to an unlikely offensive hero and a moon shot that floated across the sky over the soccer field in Lebanon.

With 13:29 on the clock in the second half and the Hot Dogs leading 2-1, freshman defender Damian Lopez launched a high-floating kick from about 30 yards away toward the Crawfordsville goal that seemed to stay in the air for an eternity.

It was somewhere between a topspin lob in tennis and a knuckleball in baseball.

The ball nicked the upper crossbar and fell behind Athenians goalkeeper Landon Timmons, crossing about a foot into the goal and bouncing back into Timmons’ hands. The goalkeeper started play again and only several seconds later did the officials stop the action, calling Lopez’s shot a goal to put the Hot Dogs up 3-1.

“That goal had some crazy backspin in the way that he hit it,” Frankfort head coach Chris Butler said. “It wasn’t the prettiest of shots, but it went in.”

That insurance goal became the game-winner when Crawfordville’s Will Kellerman scored for the second time in the game with 9:53 to play when he found the back of the net after a ball ricocheted off Hot Dog goalkeeper Daniel Montes in front of him.

Crawfordsville only had two serious attempts to tie the rest of the way with one shot flying high over the crossbar at 4:57 and Montes making a save off a penalty kick from the far left side of the field that he smothered in a scrum. A handball at midfield by the Athenians with 1:02 remaining allowed the Hot Dogs to run off precious time while resetting.

Kellerman had one last chance with a runout and one defender running stride for stride, but wasn’t able to get a shot off. An injury stoppage for a Crawfordsville player with 15 seconds briefly delayed Frankfort’s enjoying its second successive championship, but as the seconds ticked off, the Frankfort fans jubilantly celebrated in the stands with Butler reminding his players to shake hands with the Athenians before beginning their own celebration in earnest.

Montes broke out a black shirt with “Back to Back” stenciling on it on the sidelines after shaking hands with his opponents.

“You already had that made,” Butler asked him right before the coach was doused with a Gatorade shower.

Although another sectional title resulted, Butler said that this was a much different season than last year after graduating several seniors and “fighting the injury bug” all season long.

“It’s all about peaking at the right time,” he noted. “We started playing our kind of Frankfort Hot Dog soccer in the last three, three-and-a-half games and we’re not looking to stop.

“It was very hard,” Butler said. “It took us a good chunk of the season to put the system in place.”

Friday’s match was a contrast in styles between Frankfort’s speed and Crawfordsville’s physicality. The quickness of seniors Manuel Garcia and Edgar Fores Quintanilla frustrated the Athenians throughout the evening.

The Hot Dogs jumped ahead with two quick goals with 31:29 and 26:37 left in the first half to go up 2-0.

Brian Gomez Chavez scored on a penalty kick after Crawfordville was whistled in the box for the first score. Five minutes later on a break away, Quintanilla found Garcia who deposited it in the net to Timmons’ left.

Less than a minute later, Kellerman got a header by Montes at the 25:55 mark. The Athenians continued the pressure throughout the half, keeping the ball in the Hot Dogs’ portion of the field consistently, but Montes and the Hot Dogs’ defense stymied them throughout.

The second half saw the Hot Dogs’ control the tempo much more with Lopez’s moon shot providing the game winner.

Butler said that the Hot Dogs saw stiff competition throughout the sectional starting with Southmont, then avenging a regular-season loss to Lebanon in the semifinal and finally breaking a season-tie with Crawfordsville.

“This was kind of the rubber match between us,” he noted of two earlier season matches.

Frankfort beat the Athenians 6-2 in their own Hot Dog Invitational tournament on Aug. 18, with Crawfordsville returning the favor during their regular season matchup, 4-0, on Sept. 6.

“They just played better than us that day,” Butler said. “They wanted it more … Both sides were looking forward to this championship match.”

And after the Hot Dogs met the challenge and captured a second consecutive sectional, the coach described it as “sheer ecstasy, joy, super proud.

“It’s a great group of guys,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder of them. … We’ve worked toward this all season and we’re still not done.”

The win moved Frankfort’s record to 9-10 on the season. They next meet Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter, 15-4-1, in the regional semifinal at noon Saturday at Greensburg. The winner of that match will move on to play the 10 a.m. Herron vs. Lawrenceburg winner at 7 p.m. that evening.