ZIONSVILLE - The Zionsville boys soccer team knows what it takes to win at the deep in October.
For the second-straight year, the Eagles have captured the Carmel Regional title, and will be heading to the Seymour Semi-State on Saturday.
Last year that trip resulted in a 2-0 win over Bloomington South, advancing the Eagles to the state finals.
With many players back from that team, Zionsville head coach Rob Jordan and his team are hoping that experience is a factor when they take on Columbus East this year.
"It makes a world of difference," Jordan said. "Last year, it was something none of us had done before, so everything was new. This year, we know what to expect. I think it is going to be a huge asset for us."
Jordan said he is happy with the way practice has gone this week, noting the team seems loose, but focused on the job at hand.
"It's been great this week," Jordan said. "Spirits have been high and they are training hard. It is similar to last year's group - they have been there, done it and seen it all before. They are making the preparations they need to be successful this weekend."
The match-up on Saturday is expected to be a good one, with the Eagles (19-0), facing No. 5 Columbus East (17-0-3), the only other unbeaten team in the state.
The teams have four match-ups with common opponents, with the Eagles going 3-0 against Bloomington South, Brownsburg and Fishers, and the Olympians going 3-0-1.
Statistically they are also similar, with both teams scoring 59 goals and the Eagles allowing slightly fewer goals 12-13.
"They are a really good team," Jordan said. "You don't go undefeated with a couple of ties without being really good. They are a hard-nosed team, they work hard and play hard. They play the full 80 minutes and just keep coming. We know we will have our hands full."
Playing through the full 80 minutes is something the Eagles have been stressing all week.
In the regional last Saturday, the Eagles gave up a goal to Cathedral in the final three minutes to make things a little interesting in the semifinal, then saw Greenfield-Central score three unanswered goals to turn a 4-0 game into a tight contest.
Jordan said if the Eagles are going to get to their end goal, they can't take their foot of the gas.
"It's been a mantra for the past few years, to play 80 minutes," Jordan said. "You don't know which minute you are going to need to make a big save or score a big goal, so you have to play all 80 minutes. When you look back through our tournament run, not only on Saturday, but against North Central, we only played 10 minutes and we won. Maybe if we play 80 minutes, we aren't under as much pressure. That has been a huge emphasis this week."
While it could be frustrating and trying at the time, Jordan said he thinks the close games in the regional, and the two tight games the Eagles had in the sectional, will be beneficial for the rest of the season.
Jordan said there isn't anything the Eagles won't be ready for should it come up.
"Facing adversity was good for us," Jordan said. "We hadn't been down all year, then go down to North Central and have to come back. We had a lot of success early against Greenfield-Central, then kind of let it get away from us and had to hold on and we still persevered. When you have that happen, you know what to expect and how to react if it happens Saturday. We know what it feels like and what it takes to get it back."
The Eagles will have a final walk through on Friday afternoon to go over the final details needed for the game.
The game Saturday will be the third of the day, scheduled for approximately 5 p.m.
The first game of the day will be the 1A girls game between Evansville Day and Park Tudor.
The 1A boys game between Jac-Cen-Del and Lutheran will be at 3 p.m. with the Zionsville game to follow.
"The bottom line is we have to play 80 minutes, and the team that wants it the most is probably going to win," Jordan said. "We need to be motivated, aggressive with what we want to do and have that desire to pull through."