MORRISTOWN — Science Hill was leaps and bounds behind Dobyns-Bennett in the regular season.
Tuesday night against Morristown West, the Hilltoppers looked like they could be closing the gap with a 3-0 victory over the Trojans in the Region 1-AAA soccer semifinals at Burke-Toney Stadium.
“I was well pleased,” said Science Hill head coach Brandon Kind. “We've had good starts before, but tonight was a good start and good play all the way through the game.”
Science Hill improved to 15-5-1 on the season and will travel to face the Indians (19-2-1) for the region title Thursday at Indian-Highland Park at 6 p.m. D-B earned its spot with a 4-1 win over Seymour.
The Hilltoppers, who have made back-to-back appearances in the state tournament, also earned a berth in Saturday's sectional contest for the fourth straight year.
Kind said he believes his team will give D-B a full-game battle this time around. The Indians won each of the previous contests by scores of 5-1.
“Absolutely,” said Kind. “Thursday night you will see a team that hasn't been seen all year. We've learned some valuable lessons, and applied them in the later part of the year.”
The Hilltoppers took command early against West as John Huffman caught up with a loose ball after a Science Hill shot bounced off the post. Huffman struck the ball and somehow slipped it past the West goalkeeper.
“Ninety percent of the goals in soccer are ugly, trash, scrap goals,” said Kind. “That's what a forward does. He keeps scrapping around the goal and finds one. He did what a striker is supposed to do.”
Kind said Huffman's goal was a significant momentum boost.
“It's always important to catch the momentum early when you are playing on the road,” said Kind.
Huffman's goal came in the ninth minute, and the Hilltoppers carried the 1-0 advantage into halftime.
In the 58th minute, Connor Reagen delivered a nicely placed shot into the left corner of the net for a 2-0 Hilltoppers' lead.
Five minutes later, Steven McKinney ended any potential suspense by collecting a header goal.
“Steven was in the right place at the right time,” said Kind.
Perhaps the only down note for the Hilltoppers were some missed opportunities. They clipped the post on at least two occasions, had a goal called back, and couldn't win some balls delivered into the middle of the box.
Those types of chances likely need to find net Thursday if the Hilltoppers are going to find a way to scale Mt. Indian.
“We've got to put those away,” said Kind.