The teams are a combined 22-0-6 overall and 13-0-4 in the Trumbull Athletic Conference.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CHAMPION -- Champion High boys soccer coach Nate Mailach shook his head and cracked a smile.
"I don't know how you do it sometimes," he told his senior standout, John Emery.
"Me neither," Emery said.
Emery broke the school's single-season scoring record, which he already held, in Champion's 1-1 tie Monday against Lakeview.
With Emery, a forward and co-captain, getting his 31st goal, the Golden Flashes had something positive on which to dwell, after a disappointing finish.
"I never thought I'd get there again," Emery said, "but our team pulled together and we've had some great games."
Champion had planned to take a major step forward in securing its third straight Trumbull Athletic Conference title.
But now, barring an upset in the final conference games, the Flashes (9-0-4, 6-0-2) will share the crown with rival Lakeview (13-0-2, 7-0-2).
The teams also tied in their first meeting, 2-2.
"I wish we could play a third game or play an overtime," Mailach said. "Alex [Koltsov], their keeper, wanted to have penalty kicks right there to decide it. But that's just not the way it goes."
Emery added to his offensive resume with 17 minutes, 37 seconds remaining in the game when he volleyed a free kick from junior forward Max Brugler into the net.
It was Brugler's school-record 21st assist of the season.
"It's no secret, we try to knock him the ball every time we get it," Mailach said of Emery. "Just when you think he's not going to score tonight, he gets free, and with one shot off his foot it's going into the net."
After that, Champion, the state's second-ranked team in Division III and the defending district champion, appeared on its way to TAC supremacy.
But the Bulldogs' senior midfielder, Chris Bahrey, had a hard shot that ricocheted off the right post and into the net with 13:32 remaining, forcing the tie.
"They came right back," Lakeview coach Joe Megyesi said of his players. "They were not about to come here and lose."
Emery added, "We just got a little too confident. We let our guard down a little bit."
Because Lakeview pressed the attack with more aggression for most of the game, Mailach knew it was only a matter of time before the Bulldogs scored.
"We were hanging on the whole game. My defense did an incredible job of holding them to one goal," the Champion coach said. "They [Lakeview] were the better team tonight."
Both goalkeepers came up big. Champion junior Rich Slama made 10 saves, while Koltsov had six.