OVERLAND PARK, Kan. Final: Free State 2, Dodge City 0
Free State has won, 2-0.
Another shutout — No. 12 on the year — for this tough Free State defense.
The Firebirds (16-4) will play Washburn Rural (19-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday in the Class 6A state title game.
For more on Free State's semifinal victory, log on to www.LJWorld.com later or pick up a copy of Saturday's Journal-World.
7:34 p.m. update
Free State increases its lead to 2-0 on a sweet header goal from Hunter Peirce. Sam Passig, who was up from his defensive position, controlled a weak Dodge City clear and sent it to the box, where Peirce connected on a diving header.
It now appears that the Firebirds are heading to the state title game.
7:26 p.m. update
The Firebirds are now just 10 minutes away from a berth in Saturday's Class 6A state championship game.
At this point, it appears to be all about defense for the Firebirds, who continue to try to possess the ball cleanly regardless of where they are on the field. The few attacks Free State has generated this half have come in transition or at blatant attacking opportunities.
7:15 p.m. update
Halfway through the second half, Dodge City continues to control possession but the Firebirds continue to lead.
Although the Red Demons have played most of the second half in the Free State end, they've generated very few true scoring chances, thanks largely to Free State's gameplan of funneling everything to the outsides. Dodge City has seen only one or two good looks in the middle of the field.
On one of the few chances the Firebirds have gotten thus far, Daniel Chance just missed on a free kick from 25 yards, as the ball dropped just inches after clearing the crossbar.
7:04 p.m. update
Ten minutes into the second half, the Firebirds still lead, 1-0.
Dodge City has controlled the pace of play for most of the second half and has created three or four decent chances in the early going.
The Free State D has been up to the challenge each time.
Halftime update: Free State 1, Dodge City 0
The early goal from Daniel Chance (37:07) still holds strong, as the Firebirds take the lead into the break.
Free State nearly made it 2-0 with 2:21 to play in the first half when Chance scored again on a free kick from Sam Passig from midfield. Although Chance made an athletic play on the ball and flick it into the goal with the top side of his foot, the line judge on the far side ruled that Chance and two other Firebirds were offsides on the play, which nullified the goal.
Still, after an early burst and a lull in the middle, the Firebirds enjoyed several chances late in the half, including one on a flip throw-in from Tyler Smith. The throw, which drew oohs and ahhs from the crowd, landed on the foot of Jesse Clayton in the center of the box. Unfortunately for the Firebirds, though, Clayton's redirect was off target and the ball sailed wide of the net.
Dodge City outshot Free State 3-2 in the first half and it would have been more if not for the sound play of the Free State defense. While the Red Demons settled for several long-range shots, the Firebirds did a masterful job of getting a leg, shoulder, knee or foot in the way of the blasts, deflecting them out of harms way before they even reached the net.
Free State will start the second half with the kickoff. The second half is scheduled to begin at 6:56 p.m.
6:26 p.m. update
With just under 20 minutes to play in the first half, the Firebirds continue to lead 1-0.
Dodge City has taken control of the game and developed several chances in the Free State end, but senior goalkeeper Jackson McClure has been up to the challenge. McClure has made two spectacular saves to keep the Firebirds ahead, 1-0.
6:05 p.m. update
Just as it did in their quarterfinal victory against Blue Valley West, the Free State High soccer team struck fast in tonight's Class 6A semifinal at Blue Valley District Soccer Complex.
Less than three minutes into the game, Free State (15-4) jumped out to a 1-0 lead over Dodge City (16-3) on a goal from Daniel Chance at 37:07.
Chance scored on a rocket from the top of the Red Demons' box on a assist that both Preston Newsome and Diego Gonzalez passed on to leave the shot for Chance.
Chance's shot hit the underside of the crossbar and beat Dodge City keeper Cesar Carmona high and to the left.
Despite Dodge City's clear speed advantage, it's Free State that has looked sharper and more aggressive in the early going.