BROADVIEW HEIGHTS: Sophomore forward Ben Locke continues to etch his spot in the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy boys soccer history books.
Locke scored three goals Wednesday night to power CVCA to a 3-0 win over Bay Village Bay in a Division II state semifinal match at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School.
CVCA advances to play Dayton Carroll for the state title at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Columbus Crew Stadium. Carroll has won the past two state titles.
“It is obviously a blessing to get those goals, but every single one of them was all of the other guys working hard and combining,” said Locke, who has a team-high 20 goals.
“We got it outside [on the pitch], just like we wanted to do and we had some good crosses. All I had to do was finish it.”
CVCA will take a 15-6 record to Columbus after starting the season with a 7-5 mark.
“It was part of the process,” CVCA coach Jon Taylor said. “Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, the hope is that every game you play in the regular season contributes to the product at the end of the season.”
The product for the Royals recently has been an attractive brand of soccer in which they consistently possess the ball and pepper opposing goalkeepers with shots.
The Rockets (14-5-3) were on the receiving end of the Royals’ offense Wednesday.
“Ben’s goals were fantastic, all on one-touch finishes,” Taylor said. “We just had very good team attacking play. He made the right run at the right time three times and just finished.”
CVCA held an edge over Bay in shots (15-10), shots on goal (8-6) and corner kicks (6-2).
“Since the beginning of the season, we knew this was a process,” Locke said. “We are not done yet. We are not satisfied with just a state semifinal win. We are not just going down to Columbus to be there. We are going down there to win.”
Locke scored his first goal in the 35th minute off an assist by junior Hayden Kaiser.
The Royals took a 1-0 advantage into halftime. CVCA upped the margin to 2-0 in the 43rd minute when Locke converted his second goal. Sophomore Collin Surface assisted on the goal.
Locke concluded the scoring in the 72nd minute with a goal off a pass from junior Johnny Akindipe.
“I am never one to look for personal stats or personal glory,” Locke said. “It has been a blessing to get it, but it’s all because of my team.”
All three of Locke’s goals set off loud celebrations in the stands amongst the CVCA supporters.
Surface and Akindipe were efficient as starters at midfield for CVCA, along with senior Zack Bosshard and junior Ben Gradert.
Locke and junior Sammy Meszaros put together solid runs from their starting forward positions to give the Rockets’ defense fits.
Royals senior goalkeeper Chad Prtenjak collected six saves behind a starting defensive unit that consisted of senior Tim Horth, sophomore Joe Horth, junior Tim Andrassy and freshman Gino Finelli.
“Tim Horth is kind of an unsung hero,” Taylor said. “From a statistics perspective, defenders kind of get overlooked. Tim has led the team very well. Him and Zack Bosshard are both seniors who play in the field and have done a really good job.”
Kaiser and juniors Ben Risma and Josiah DiPaolo contributed in reserve roles to help the Royals earn a trip to Columbus.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or mbeaven@thebeaconjournal.