Madison’s Will Heitz (4) drives down the field during the Cubs’ sectional loss to Corydon on Wednesday. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
Madison’s Will Heitz (4) drives down the field during the Cubs’ sectional loss to Corydon on Wednesday. (Staff photo by David Campbell)
SCOTTSBURG — Corydon blitzed Madison with four first-half goals then held off a frantic second-half rally to post a 5-3 win in the semifinals of the Class 2A Boys Soccer Sectional at Scottsburg on Wednesday.

The Panthers scored just six minutes into the game and after Madison tied it two minutes later, tacked on three more scores to take a commanding 4-1 lead into the half.

But the defending sectional champion Cubs weren’t going to go down that easily. Madison scored just minutes into the second half and dominated play throughout the final 40, pulling to within one with two minutes to go before the Panthers finally put away the win.

While he was disappointed to be going home early, Madison coach Kyle Bipes was happy with the way his team responded to the early adversity.

“We just didn’t have the ball bounce our way in the first half. It was just one of those nights,” Bipes said. “I gave them a little PG-13 speech at halftime and told them that we have 40 minutes to play the hardest soccer that we’ve played all year and we’ve worked too hard to go down like this. And they responded really well and with a lot of energy. We just came up short.”

All four of Corydon’s first-half goals came on rare defensive breakdowns by the Cubs, normally the team’s strongest group.

The Panthers (11-4-1) scored in the sixth minute when Hayden Ettner got behind the defense and beat goalie Zach Forner one-on-one for a 1-0 lead.

Madison came right back two minutes later, scoring a set piece when Adriano Martinez placed a corner kick perfectly on the far side of the goal and Will Heitz headed the ball into the net.

Corydon went back on top on their own set piece goal when Jagger Holton redirected a Lucas Lee corner kick in the 19th minute and scored again in the 25th minute on an Ethan Lisher goal off a Lee assist.

The Panthers’ fourth goal in the 34th proved to be a head scratcher. The Cubs were whistled for a foul in the box and Lee converted the penalty kick, only to have officials disavow it and call for a re-kick after violations on both teams. Forner stopped Lee’s second attempt, but the ball went out of bounds on the play. On the ensuing corner kick, Cesar Onsorio slammed the ball into the net.

“We usually don’t have games like that. Our defense has been rock-solid all year,” Bipes said. “Our whole back line has played solid all year. It was just one of those games.”

Down 4-1, Madison didn’t quit. Felipe Levesque scored four minutes into the second half to pull the Cubs within two and Madison nearly scored a minute later when Martinez’s shot banged off the inside of the post and away from the goal somehow without crossing the line.

The scored remained 4-2 until the waning moments. Bipes had pulled Forner from goal and placed him on offense, replacing his senior in the pipes with his brother Drew. The Forner family connection proved to be critical in the 79th minute when Drew blasted a punt three quarters of the way down the field and Zach tracked it down, heading the ball into the net after one bounce to close the gap to 4-3.

There was only a minute and a half left in the game but any hopes at a Madison comeback were thwarted when Holton scored his second goal of the game with 15 seconds to go to ice the win.

“This is a team that doesn’t quit and that’s what’s great about them,” Bipes said. “The ball didn’t bounce our way today, but they never gave up.”

Madison ended up holding a 19-18 advantage in overall shots while Corydon had a 10-9 advantage in shots on goal. The Cubs had five corner kick chances to three by the Panthers but with the game getting physical and chippy at times, the whistle was constantly blowing and Corydon had 13 fouls to 10 by Madison.

Zach Forner had five saves in goal for the Cubs while counterpart Jose Chaires also had five saves before leaving the game late after a collision with Forner.

Corydon advances to the sectional championship match today where it will take on 20th-ranked Scottsburg. The Warriors defeated Silver Creek 6-0 in Wednesday’s second game.

Madison ends the season with a 7-8-1 record and graduates eight seniors, Luke Bryant, Dylan Eblen, Zach Forner, Nate Hamby, Heitz, Carson Roark, Grant Smith and Jacob Smith, as well as Levesque, an exchange student from Spain.