The East Ridge soccer Pioneers' offense gave them enough goals to survive in the state playoffs. Their defense gave them enough help to advance.
The Pioneers received goals from Kolbe King and Alex Martinez, while a defensive effort led by John Mwamba combined with a bad shooting night by Boyd-Buchanan helped East Ridge advance to the Region 3-A/AA final with a 2-0 win Tuesday.
The Pioneers (13-2-2) will travel to East Hamilton, a 4-0 winner over Sweetwater, for the championship match Thursday at 5.
King, who missed the regular-season 1-1 match against the Bucs, made his impact felt Tuesday, scoring on an assist by Rasim Kazic in the first half. King, along with Tad Whitaker, continued to put pressure on the Boyd-Buchanan defense before, during and after both goals scored.
"I think at the end, we just wanted it," East Ridge coach Jeremy McIntyre said. "We gave it all that we had; I just love the guys."
McIntyre was just as pleased with his defenders. They shut down a number of opportunities, and even when the Bucs (10-5-1) had an open look they couldn't quite find the net -- as evidenced by a David Ingram shot that glanced off the crossbar in the second half.
"Even when we had the lead, all of the pressure was on us and not them," McIntyre said. "We couldn't let them get a goal.
"I thought our defense played solid in a very physical match."
Boyd-Buchanan, the District 5 champion, will lose only one starting senior.
"All of the credit goes to East Ridge. They just wanted it more than we did," Bucs coach Dustin Walker said. "I'm proud of the energy that we showed in the second half, but I don't think we realized the situation we were in. I don't think it clicked that it was a win-or-go-home game until it was too late.
"Hopefully, we'll learn from this. There are lessons to be taken from today. It's up to the guys if they want to take the lesson.
• East Hamilton 4, Sweetwater 0: Jonah Goddard scored two goals to lead the Hurricanes to their third consecutive region final.
East Hamilton (17-1-2) also received goals from Alex McCarney and Cameron Takrouri. Jalen Goddard and Juan Flores had assists.