EVANSVILLE — It was a day and night to be remembered in Avon sports history, and one saved by the outstretched arm of a sophomore goalkeeper.
Avon’s Tyler Shanahan made a diving stop of an Evansville Memorial penalty kick with five minutes remaining in Saturday’s semi-state final, and the Orioles finished the job for a 2-1 victory.
No. 2 Avon beat top-ranked Columbus North 3-2 in the early session, and knocked out No. 3 Memorial to reach the program’s first-ever state championship.
“That is a tough thing to do, to come down here and beat the teams we beat today,” said Avon coach Phil Schmidt, whose squad will face fellow-unbeaten Crown Point for the Class 2A crown. “They were gut-wrenching, down to the wire, back and forth games. I’m so proud of them, and hopefully we can get one more win.”
A goal by Andrew Killion put Avon ahead of Memorial 13 minutes in, but a penalty kick by Michael Riedford tied it with 34 minutes remaining.
Jordan Kleyn scored off a corner kick to give Avon a one-goal lead with 25 minutes left, and all was well until an Avon foul in the box with five minutes on the clock. With all the pressure on his shoulders, Shanahan dove to his left, and denied Riedford of a game-tying goal, and the Orioles were able to run out the clock.
“I knew if I didn’t block it, we were going to overtime and they’d have a chance to win the game,” Shanahan said. “One of my teammates, Bryce Cirbo, pointed for me to go that way, and I believed him, so I went that way.”
In its victory over Columbus North, Avon was in an early hole, as Bull Dog Riley Belding scored 12 minutes in. The Orioles didn’t wait long to answer, as Quinton Bridegroom found the back of the net on a free kick that followed a North handball at the top-center of the box.