Crown Point peaking at the right time

Story Image Munster's Christian Catania (right) goes up for a header alongside Crown Point's Carmelo Morales during the second half at the boys soccer regional finals held at at Merrillville High School in Merrillville, Ind., Saturday, October 15, 2011. | Guy Rhodes~For Sun-Times Media
Story Image

Updated: October 15, 2011 10:24PM

MERRILLVILLE  — The regular season might not have gone exactly as planned for the Crown Point boys soccer team, albeit against a challenging schedule.

But the postseason is going quite well for the Bulldogs, thanks very much.

Crown Point won its first regional title with a 2-1 victory against Munster in Saturday’s Class 2A Merrillville championship.

The Bulldogs will play the Kokomo Regional winner, either Noblesville or Marion, at 9 a.m. next Saturday in the Warsaw Semistate semifinals.

Carmelo Morales scored both goals for Crown Point (13-6-2) against Munster (16-4-1), the beneficiary of two excellent feeds, including what proved to be the game-winner with 4 1/2 minutes left in the second half.

“It’s amazing,” Morales said. “We’re finally putting soccer on the map at CP. Words can’t describe it. It was a great team effort.”

Bulldogs coach JR Rosenbaum took the breakthrough title in stride.

“It’s the same as the other games — maybe in a month, a year, two years, we’ll look back on what we accomplished,” said Rosenbaum, whose team defeated last season’s state champion Lake Central in a regional semifinal on Thursday and on Saturday avenged a 3-2 loss to Munster from Aug. 29, after winning the program’s first sectional title since 1995. “Our goal wasn’t to win regionals; it’s to advance far in the tournament.”

Morales helped send Crown Point further in that direction, flicking home a header off Brett Bayer’s beautifully served free kick into the penalty box from near midfield.

The sophomore forward also had scored the game’s first goal, finishing a nice combination by the Bulldogs with 31-plus minutes left in the second half. Bay Kurtz and Joey Davis worked a give-and-go along the right side, with Kurtz crossing a ball to Morales in front of the goal.

Morales said he had trouble finishing early in the season. But he had no such issues on Saturday.

“I had to figure some things out,” Morales said. “I was thinking too much before I shot. I just had to calm down.”

Said Rosenbaum: “Morales did a wonderful job. He’s a really talented player.”

Morales’ first goal seemed as if it might hold up, but senior standout Zarko Coric came through for the Mustangs with less than 15 minutes left. He expertly struck a direct kick from 25 yards, lining the ball inside the right post to tie the score.

“It was an amazing shot,” Rosenbaum said. “He plays like a man among boys.

“After they got their goal, we were able to rebound, bounce back and get our goal. ... Our heads never went down.”

After the difficult loss, Munster coach Jim Prasopoulos admittedly had few words.

“They deserve the limelight; they won. Congratulations to Crown Point,” said Prasopoulos, whose team played the game’s final 2:27 with 10 players as senior forward Chris Tassaro received a red card for a foul on Kurtz. “Hopefully they’ll represent our area well. We had a good season. We accomplished a lot. I’m proud of my boys for how hard they worked.”

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