GEORGETOWN — The clock at Toyota Stadium seemed to go in slow motion for Greenwood.
The final five minutes clicked down slowly as the Gators clung to a 2-1 lead over Danville in the state soccer tournament semifinals.
"I wish we'd still been playing instead of just kicking and praying, but we got the result, and it's always tough to get the result this late in the season," Coach Scott Gural said.
The Gators did get their final result despite several close calls in the waning minutes to earn the school's second trip to the state finals where they will face two-time defending state champion St. Xavier here on Saturday.
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The Tigers topped Covington Catholic 4-1 in the first game Wednesday night.
After Logan Guess scored midway through the first half, Greenwood grabbed a 2-0 lead early in the second on Shakir Feyzulov's shot that bounced off the left post and into the goal.
Then, for the final 38 minutes, the Gators held on for their playoff lives, advancing to just their second finals in school history and their first since 2004 when they lost to Lexington Catholic.
"I'm so happy," Feyzulov said. "I was just waiting for that final whistle. ... We were just trying to hold on, there wasn't a lot of offense in the last five minutes, but we did it."
The Admirals, making their first-ever state semifinal appearance, made it interesting with Jake Winkler's goal six minutes into the second half that made it 2-1.
"As much as we were on our heels at times, we kept our composure, and we kept on playing," Gural said. "Once we gave up the goal, we still kept playing. We came back and did what we needed to do."
Even though the Admirals couldn't capitalize, Coach Brent Beauman was pleased with his team's effort until that final horn sounded.
"They wanted this so bad, and they have such fight in them," Beauman said. "They wanted to do it for the school and the community. ... Of course you want to win; of course you want to keep on going ... but I couldn't be more proud of the boys."St. Xavier 4, Covington Catholic 1: Even though the top-ranked Tigers have been here many times before, winning the last two state championships, they couldn't help but feel the butterflies.
They flew around well into halftime when the two teams were tied 1-1.
"Today was a little nerve-wracking and everything," said senior striker Tyler Riggs, who noted that the team lost nine starters from last year's state champ. "We were too focused on the excitement of getting back here."
Coach Andy Schulten just had to get rid of the butterflies and remind the Tigers that there was a reason they made it back to the state semifinals.
"Second half, they came out, and they settled down a little bit," Schulten said. "We aren't the type of team that can worry about what other teams are doing, we just have to do what we do."
Riggs, a Kentucky commitment, made sure of it.
Riggs scored the Tigers' first goal in the first half and then the go-ahead goal 16 minutes into the second half. Then, the senior assisted on one of Cameron Coppola's two goals in the second half.
The Tigers won their ninth straight game and are one win away from becoming the first team to earn three straight state titles.
St. Xavier 4, Covington Catholic 1
Goals—CC: Sam Mullen; SX: Tyler Riggs 2, Cameron Coppola 2. Goalkeepers—CC: Brett Futscher; SX: Oliver Brown, John Ohkubo.
Records — Covington Catholic 14-7-1, St. Xavier 22-1-1.
Greenwood 2, Danville 1
Goals—G: Logan Guess, Shakir Feyzulov; D: Jake Winkler. Goalkeepers—D: Byron Hempel; G: Patrick Conley.
Records—Danville 18-4-3, Greenwood 15-8-3.