After shutting out its previous seven opponents and earning 13 shutouts overall this season, the Dublin Jerome High School boys soccer team wasn't expecting a high-scoring game Saturday in a Division I district final against Westerville Central at Grove City Christian.
Despite giving two goals for only the second time this season, the top-seeded Celtics beat the unseeded Warhawks 3-2 for their third district title in the past four years.
Senior Brian McGue scored all three goals for Jerome, which improved to 15-1-3 and advanced to a regional semifinal Tuesday against Dublin Coffman. Central finished 6-10-3.
"We don't like to trade goals like this, but it's nice to know that we can win a higher-scoring game if we have to," McGue said. "Winning a district title means everything to us. It's exciting (to score a hat trick) in a game like this. I've done it a few times before, but never against a team as good as Westerville Central."
After McGue scored his first goal, Central's Channing Doerman scored and goalkeeper Jim Crum made all six of his saves in the first half to keep the game tied at 1.
"Jim had been our backup goalie most of the season, but we decided to go with him for the entire tournament since he's a senior, and he gave us a chance to win this game," Warhawks coach David Pence said.
McGue scored his second goal off a pass from Jeff Addis with 1 minute, 28 seconds left, and he scored on a breakaway with 19 seconds remaining.
That third goal was crucial, as Trent Morris scored off a crossing pass from Mark Simonds with 3.4 seconds left.
"We hadn't been scored on in our past seven games, and their first goal woke us up," Jerome coach Nathan Maust said. "We played much better in the second half."