County rivals Lakeland and Westview will battle this Saturday afternoon (3 p.m.) in Emma for a boys soccer sectional championship.
The Lakers (11-5-2) and Warriors (10-6-2) advanced to the finals with semifinal victories Wednesday night. Lakeland shocked defending champ West Noble, 4-3 and Westview knocked off Prairie Heights, 2-1.
In their only other meeting this season, the Warriors defeated the Lakers, 3-2 in LaGrange on August 31.
Lakeland, which lost twice to West Noble during the campaign, hit the Chargers with a three-goal burst in the opening 11 minutes. Nick Byler got the Laker express rolling with an unassisted tally at the 5:23 mark. Dustin Cunningham connected 90 seconds later off a feed from Eric Carmona. Sammy Garcia capped the spurt with an unassisted score.
West Noble got on the board 12 minutes before halftime on a shot by Uriel A. Macias. But Lakeland would regain its three-goal margin 17 minutes into the second half when Carmona connected on a drive.
The Chargers would make things interesting in the latter stages of the second half, as a pair of goals by Abel Zamarripa, the second coming on a penalty kick with 13:06 remaining, narrowing the gap to one. But the Lakers held on to end West Noble’s reign.
Lakeland keeper Marco Olivares stopped 17 Charger shots. West Noble netminder Jonathan Moreno made three saves.
In the first semifinal match Wednesday, Westview had to rally to best a pesky Prairie Heights squad. After a scoreless first half, the Panthers broke the ice on a goal by Marco Faltermeier in the 53rd minute. Christian Granados assisted on the tally.
Bucky Carpenter finally put the Warriors on the board with 19:02 left off a pass from Lucas Hunter. Five minutes later, Jacob Berkey headed in the winning goal off a rebound of a direct kick by Hunter.
Winning keeper Tarrin Beachy got credit for two saves. Panther goalie Tyler Gingerich made seven stops.