Columbian soccer coach Rob Ochier said he couldn't have asked for a better first half in his team's sectional semifinal game against Upper Sandusky Monday.
The Tornadoes got goals from Mike Brady and Hunter Stark, briefly led the Rams 2-1, and went into the half tied at two.
But in the second half the Rams took control, scoring four unanswered goals and advancing to Wednesday's sectional final with a 6-2 victory.
"A little bit of a scare that they gave us," Upper Sandusky coach Keith Miller said of the first half. "We talked about it in the locker room (at the break) that we needed to come out like we did in the beginning of the game; we thought they were back on their heels a little bit, and we should have taken advantage of that earlier."
Taylor Emerick's goal off a Brad Roeder assist about eight minutes into the second half broke the tie, and appeared to give the Rams (13-4) momentum they carried through the remainder of the contest.
"Once we scored, everyone put their head up," said Emerick, who scored again in the second half to help put the game away.
"Second half, they did come out, put one on the board on us," Ochier said. "They took the momentum away in the game and just held on from there."
Upper Sandusky scored less than two minutes into the game, when Brandon Miller notched an unassisted goal. Columbian tied things about 14 minutes later when Brady found the net off a Spencer Pauley assist.
About 10 minutes later, Columbian grabbed the lead when Stark floated in a shot from 25 yards out on the left side.
"Hunter had a wonderful shot," Ochier said. "He's actually done that a couple times this year. He's buried a couple of shots from long range, which has been a big pick-me-up for us."
Columbian's lead lasted less than two minutes, as Shin Nagahama bested TC's defense and delivered an unassisted goal.
"That's the first time I've seen that kind of speed out of him," Coach Miller said. "He really decided he was going to take that into his own hands and he took the ball by himself and ran right through there, and had a good shot on goal."
After Emerick's goal gave the Rams the lead, Brandon Miller added an insurance goal about 17 minutes into the second half, giving Upper Sandusky a 4-2 lead. Emerick's second goal - about seven minutes later - essentially put the match away.
Sam Duress' goal in the final 10 seconds closed the scoring.
"We definitely wanted to come out and show these guys that just because it was home to them, we weren't gonna let them win," Brandon Miller said.
Upper Sandusky outshot the Tornadoes 19-6. Columbian goalie Josh Gibson had 12 saves.
"I definitely could not ask for a better effort out of Josh," Ochier said. "He did have a lot of 1-on-1's, but if it wasn't for Josh, we wouldn't be where we're at."
Upper Sandusky's goalkeeper, William Amert, made four saves.
Up next for the Rams is Clear Fork at 5 p.m. Wednesday, back at Frost-Kalnow Stadium. Clear Fork ended the Rams' season last year in the postseason, something Upper Sandusky's players haven't forgotten.
"Definitely," Brandon Miller said when asked if the Rams have payback on their minds. "I think we can do it."