Daviess County High School secured its place in the final eight of the KHSAA Boys Soccer State Tournament with a 4-1 win over South Warren on a crisp, cool Monday evening at the Deer Park Soccer Complex’s Panther Field.

The Panthers (21-1-4) advance to face the winner of Tuesday’s North Oldham-DuPont Manual match later this week.

Heading into Monday’s game, DC’s strategy was to use its depth to its advantage.

“I thought the boys, offensively, executed the game plan,” Panthers coach Doug Sandifer said. “We wanted to make them run, and we wanted our forwards running. We were running a couple different shifts at forward to try to tire their backs out. I thought we got looks from doing that and got opportunities.

“Defensively, we held them to one goal, but we’ve got to shore up some things before the next game. Overall, we played well defensively.”

South Warren (12-9-2) struck first when Kiram Mujic scored on a header off a corner kick in the 13th minute. From there, however, the Spartans were shut out.

Nick Vincent fired a rocket shot into the back of the net off a rebound in the box seven minutes later, and Dax Sandifer added a header off Andrew Alexander’s corner kick just two minutes before halftime — giving DC a 2-1 lead at intermission.

“I thought the boys came out and played composed and hard,” Sandifer added. “Maybe South’s first goal on their first real attack settled us in a little bit. We didn’t hang our heads, fought back, and got a couple goals in the first half.”

The Panthers scored again five minutes into the second half when Ahmed Abdullahi challenged South Warren goalkeeper Aiden Peerce’s clearance attempt. Abdullahi blocked the long kick before getting a foot on the loose ball, which sailed high through the air over Peerce’s head and took one bounce before finding its way into the goal.

“The third goal was huge, to get a cushion,” Sandifer said. “That’s just an effort play. He didn’t give up on a ball. There was maybe some miscommunication between their center back and the goalkeeper. Often times, I’ll see forwards give up on that, and he kept fighting. Kind of a crazy finish, but it all counts the same.”

Tanner Andersen’s goal off Davian Clark’s assist sealed the victory with 11:37 remaining.

“We’re over the moon,” said DCHS senior Carson Thomas. “It means a lot to us to be back in the Elite Eight. It’s sort of a tradition now, I’d like to say, at least for me. This is four years in a row, and hopefully we can get a win on whatever day we play later in the week.”

The Panthers finished with a 14-5 edge in shots and an 8-4 lead in shots on target, with both Peerce and Panthers goalkeeper Cody Clak recording three saves apiece.

DC will take Tuesday off before returning to practice Wednesday in preparation of their next postseason matchup. Based on the KHSAA’s RPI system, a North Oldham victory Tuesday would have DC traveling to Goshen later this week, while a Manual win would put DC back at home.

“This is a hard game, and they’ll get their legs back,” Sandifer said. “We’ll practice Wednesday, and by then we’ll know who our next opponent is and whether we’ll be at home or away, and we’ll get ready for that. This time of year, I don’t know how much practicing tomorrow would help instead of just resting for a day.”

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