LYNCHBURG, Va. -- For the second time in three years, WildCat Stadium will be site of the ODAC championship game.
Randolph (17-1-1) had defeated this Washington & Lee (10-4-5) team eight days ago by a score of 4-0 on the same field, but with the stakes being higher and the return of All-ODAC performer Zach Colby for the Generals, most expected a closer game.
They were right.
At intermission, while the WildCats held a 10-8 edge in shots, only two, both by the WildCats, were dangerous enough to require saves.
The second half brought more open play, as well as opportunities.
The first 20 minutes of the second frame had more shots on goal than the entire first half, as senior Carter Smith (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) made two stops while his counterpart Albert Civitarese made one in that period.
24:11 into that frame, Randolph finally broke through when senior Jacob Lusczek (Fredericksburg, Va./Chancellor) broke down the wing, freeing the ball and crossing it low into the box where classmate John Adams (Lynchburg, Va./E.C. Glass) awaited, striking to put the WildCats up.
"Kyle Unruh (Raleigh, N.C./Cardinal Gibbons) did a really good job making that near-post run which drew the defenders and Lusczek played a great ball and I was just fortunate enough to be in the right spot at the right time to finish it," Adams said after the game.
Just over five minutes later, W&L knocked on the door when Smith was required to make a diving save after a redirected shot almost found the far post.
Just minutes after that, a loose ball in the six was cleared by junior back Coulton Watson (Virginia Beach, Va./Salem) averting a tying score.
With the clock winding down, the game became a back-and-forth affair, with the Generals playing a high line, desperate for an equalizer.
Senior Corey Sindle (Gloucester, Va./Gloucester) broke free on a two-on-one with Lusczek with just over six minutes to go, but when the forward took it himself, a diving save stopped his shot destined for the top corner.
Sindle helped set up the dagger three minutes later, however, when he accepted a feed from Lusczek down the sideline and centered it into the box where first-year Troy Jurney (Camp Lejeune, N.C./White Oak) was waiting to double the lead.
It is the third straight game in which the speedy forward has earned a point and the fourth in the last five games.
"Troy has been great for us the last four games," head coach Bryan Waggoner said. "His speed and work rate has really hurt teams."
After that, it was just a matter of watching the clock run down before the WildCats wrapped up their fourth straight shutout win and the sixth in the last seven games.
Randolph improves to 2-2 all-time in ODAC semifinals in the fourth straight appearance for the team.
In Virginia Beach, also at 7 p.m., Virginia Wesleyan bested the only team this year to defeat Randolph, Lynchburg. That pushes the Marlins into the ODAC title game on Saturday at 7 p.m., here at WildCat Stadium.
Earlier this year, Randolph beat Virginia Wesleyan, scoring the game's first four goals, but this Marlin squad is hot, riding an eight-game winning streak.
"They're a great team, a very athletic team," Waggoner said of the Marlins. "We're going to have to work hard but it's a final. This is what the guys worked for over the last year."
Coach Waggoner talks to the media:
John Adams talks to the media: