Trinity Lutheran’s Dillon DeVore (above left) and Bobby Tabeling celebrate after DeVore’s goal while Southwestern keeper John Vest lies dejected on the ground during the regional soccer tournament at Switzerland County on Thursday. Michael Arberg gives Vest a hug (below, right) as teammates Chris Webster (23) and Peter Carrell offer consolation after the game. The Rebels saw their season end with a 2-1 loss. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
Trinity Lutheran’s Dillon DeVore (above left) and Bobby Tabeling celebrate after DeVore’s goal while Southwestern keeper John Vest lies dejected on the ground during the regional soccer tournament at Switzerland County on Thursday. Michael Arberg gives Vest a hug (below, right) as teammates Chris Webster (23) and Peter Carrell offer consolation after the game. The Rebels saw their season end with a 2-1 loss. (Staff photos by David Campbell)
Southwestern won every statistical category but the one that counted and saw its season end at the hands of Trinity Lutheran in the Class A Boys Soccer Regional semifinals Thursday at Switzerland County.

The Rebels outshot Trinity 24-17, including an overwhelming 14-4 advantage on shots on goal and even had a 10-4 lead in corner kicks.

But Trinity made the most of its limited attempts and scored on half of its goal shots to score the 2-1 win.

"That's kind of what we've been like all year. We've had a lot of shots this year and we've scored a lot of goals, too, but we've missed a lot of shots," Southwestern coach Dave Bramer said. "That's something we can build on."

Southwestern (12-4-3) came into the match with the reputation of a second half team but the Rebels did their best to dominate the first 40 minutes.

Controlling the field for the entire half, Southwestern spent much of the time lining up shots on Trinity's goal, firing 15 of them in all with nine of them on target.

Trinity goalie Luke Onken was up to the task and stopped eight shots in the first half to keep his team in the game. The Cougar offense meanwhile mustered 10 shots but only one on goal.

While neither team was able to find the net in the first half, Trinity took advantage of the halftime break to reorganize and the Cougars (11-8) were a much different team over the final 40 minutes.

All of a sudden Southwestern did not have the advantage in ball-handling and the easy attempts the Rebels were getting in the first half suddenly went away. It was the Cougars who were the more aggressive team at the outset.

"We worked the ball well, we did a lot of good things with the ball to keep it down at their end. (Trinity) came out in the second half fired up and they kind of put it to us," Bramer said. "(We had) the sun in our face and that makes some of those ordinary shots tricky shots. That's to their credit because they took advantage of it."

An overcast day gave way to a sunny evening as the second half started. As a result, a low sun shined down on the Switzerland County High School field that orients east to west.

Rebel goalkeeper John Vest and the rest of the Southwestern defense found themselves staring right back into the blinding sun.

Trinity's first score took advantage of that low-hanging sun. The Cougars worked the ball from right to left in front of the Southwestern net and senior Dillon DeVore settled the ball just to the left of the goal. DeVore then fired a quick shot that beat Vest on the right as the sophomore goalie was scrambling to get back into position.

Trinity's goal came with 17 minutes to play in the game but the lead didn't last long. Just 79 seconds later Southwestern scored the equalizer when Nathan Anderson's perfectly-placed corner kick sailed past Onken and right to the waiting Michael Arberg, who redirected it into the goal for his ninth score of the season.

It was a potentially game-changing goal but the Rebels were unable to capitalize on the quick momentum shift. Trinity maintained its control over the ball and Southwestern could not regain possession.

DeVore struck again with 10 minutes to play on a similar goal as his first for what proved to be the game-winner. The senior settled the ball right in the middle of the box and hammered a shot past two Rebel defenders for the 2-1 lead.

Southwestern had more than 10 minutes left on the game clock but despite several good looks could not get the ball in the net. The Rebels' best shot came in the waning seconds when Ashton Hill set up for a quick corner kick and Onken just barely redirected the ball out of bounds.

Onken finished the game with 12 saves while Vest had two. Trinity was whistled for eight fouls to Southwestern's six.

"If you can get one of those goals it changes the whole complexion of the game," Bramer said of the team's numerous first-half chances. "You could tell when (Trinity) scored we said, 'All right,' and upped it a little bit. You hate to think that's what it takes but sometimes it does."

Southwestern loses four seniors - twin brothers Matthew and Michael Hedges, Austin Spray, Mitchel Swafford and Chris Webster - off its first-ever sectional champion team as well as Arberg, an exchange student from Germany. Bramer couldn't say enough about the group that helped lead the Rebels to their historic season.

"The leadership that we got from Austin and Chris had some issues, but when he became eligible, Chris Webster really played stellar defense back there," Bramer said. "Michael Hedges stood up at senior day and talked about how much it meant for him to play and that really got to me. And we have a couple other seniors, Matthew Hedges and Mitchel Swafford, didn't get to play much but we had to go against them in practice and it made us a better team."

The Rebels will need to replace three starters but return the team's core including junior Coleman Jackson, who set the school scoring record with 30 goals this season, and freshman Edi Tovar, who had 15 goals. Cam Rogers, Anderson, Vest, Hill and Gage Hartman also return.

What excites Bramer most is that most of his players do not have much soccer experience and are just going to get better.

"I asked the guys how many of them have been playing their whole life and maybe a handful raised their hands," Bramer said. "Most of these guys' experience can be measured in months. They're only going to get better and it makes it exciting."

It was a rough night for both Ohio River Valley Conference teams in the regional as 15th-ranked Jac-Cen-Del suffered the same fate as Southwestern. The Eagles outshot Providence 26-17 in game two, including 19-9 on goal, but lost 3-0.

The Pioneers, now 12-6-2, got goals from David Betz, Connor Vanhook and Thomas David. Jeffrey Wiles stopped 19 shots in goal for Providence.

Providence and Trinity Lutheran will meet in the regional final at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Jac-Cen-Del ends the season with a 13-3-3 record.