Class B: Ivan Rios has a pair of goals to help Columbus reach first championship game since 2009

Columbus' Ivan Rios, No. 5, celebrates after scoring a goal against Lexington during their state semifinal game on Saturday.

Its difference maker helped Columbus produce a different result Saturday at the state tournament.

The Class B No. 5 Discoverers got a pair of goals from star forward Ivan Rios and knocked off second-ranked Lexington 2-1 in the semifinals of the boys state soccer tournament at Morrison Stadium.

It was a reversal of fortunes from a 5-1 loss when the two teams met earlier in the season, and puts Columbus in Monday’s 5 p.m. state championship against No. 1 Omaha Skutt, a winner in the morning’s other semifinal.

“They embarrassed us the first time,” Rios said. “We wanted to come out and really show them what we’re made of.”

His sliding score on the back post on a corner kick from Adrian Pedraza gave Columbus a fast start that it didn’t get the first time around. It was the fifth Columbus corner kick in the match’s first 14 minutes. They had also hit the crossbar twice  before the score.

Pedraza and Rios would connect again later in the half, this time on a well-placed free kick that Rios headed in with just more than four minutes until half. It was the junior’s 23rd goal of the year.

“They were both just great balls and he did what he had to do, finished,” Discoverer coach John Arlt said.

Said Lexington coach Jess McHargue: “When we get exposed in the air like that, it’s two goals and a game changer.”

His team would get one back 67 seconds later when Junior Casillas put away a cross to cut the lead in half before the break.

But its chances for an equalizer were few and far between, a task that grew even more difficult when Rios shifted to the back in the second half.

Lexington played down a man for the final 11:36 of the match after Bryan Aldana was shown a red card for a collision with Columbus keeper Alejandro Morales.

“We just came out really flat,” McHargue said. “We were second to everything and I just felt like we were moving slow. That one’s on me.”

His team couldn’t find any late magic like it did in the 73rd minute in an overtime win in the opening round.

“Down at the state tournament you always need a little bit of luck,” McHargue said. “And we had some on Thursday night and we just didn’t have the ball bounce our way today.”

Arlt credited the defense, and specifically center back Jorge Moncibais, for keeping Lexington at bay. Moncibais missed the regular-season meeting between the two, and his impact in the lineup was notable according to the Discoverer coach.

Effort and intensity were both much higher this time around, too, he added.

“I think we just came out with a lot more energy,” Arlt said. “They’re a really fabulous team, obviously. They kicked us hard three weeks ago, but we’ll take this one.”

A win in Monday’s championship would be the first state title in program history for the Discoverers. It’s their second finals appearance.

Columbus (14-4)..........2 0 - 2

Lexington (14-3)..........1 0 - 1

GOALS: Ivan Rios 2; L, Junior Casillas.

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