Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union

Warsaw senior Jose Lara maintains control of the ball during the first half as Brandon Amaya of Concord moves in to defend in the opening round of the IHSAA Class 3A boys soccer sectional at Northridge High School in Middlebury Monday.
Photo by Gary Nieter, Times-Union Warsaw senior Jose Lara maintains control of the ball during the first half as Brandon Amaya of Concord moves in to defend in the opening round of the IHSAA Class 3A boys soccer sectional at Northridge High School in Middlebury Monday.
MIDDLEBURY — Concord engineered an about-face rarely seen in soccer, one that meant a season-ending slap in the face for Warsaw.

Completing an eight-goal swing from a 6-0 regular-season home defeat less than five weeks earlier, the Minutemen stunned the No. 9-ranked Tigers 3-1 in Monday’s Class 3A Northridge Sectional boys opener at Todd Woodworth Field.

Warsaw (14-4) played without all-state sweeper candidate Tedros Berelsman, serving a one-game sit-out under IHSAA rules due to his mid-game ejection four nights earlier, coincidentally at this same venue.

Without Berelsman, the Tiger defense appeared unsure much of the evening.

Warsaw — which stood 14-2 entering last week with its only two losses coming against 3A No. 2 Carroll and 2A No. 1 Marian — dropped its second consecutive game at Northridge, the other one being 3-1 against the Raiders last week.

That first one cost the Tigers a Northern Lakes Conference title. This one cost them their postseason.

“The team did not show up,” retiring Warsaw coach Frank Courtois said point-blank while likening it to last year’s first-round upset loss against Fort Wayne Wayne. “We’ve been trying to get ’em to, ‘Hey, guys, pick up the spirit,’ but we couldn’t get ’em to (that level of play) after the loss Thursday. I wasn’t here (Thursday due to attending a wedding), but I think we are in a slump, especially without Tedros in the back.”

The Tigers jumped on top in the 10th minute on senior Jose Lara’s 10th goal of the season, his tally coming off junior Ethan Grill’s team-leading 10th assist, a humming corner kick.

Concord (10-4-2) answered 10 minutes later, though, when senior Caleb Repaich lined in a shot from about 15 yards.

The Minutemen took the lead for good just four minutes later when junior midfielder Eusebio

Espinoza weaved through middle traffic and struck from a similar distance.

Concord got insurance it never had to cash in when sophomore Andres Dixon capitalized on a defensive misplay 12 minutes into the second half for the final 3-1 spread.

All three Minutemen goals were unassisted.

“Not having Tedros in the back made a big difference,” Courtois said. “He’s one of those top players that you need to have in the back. I mean, you saw the goals. Right (up) the middle. He would’ve been there to stop it.”

Concord coach Shawn McCuen concurred on Berelsman’s value.

“He’s a heck of a player,” McCuen said. “He possesses speed, quality on the ball out of the back. … He knows how to cover and offer balance in covering. It was a big loss for them.” Still, it couldn’t have accounted for all of that eight-goal swing.

A decidedly improved Minutemen club also contributed.

Concord, after starting the season 2-4, moved to 8-0-2 over its last 10 games, one of those ties coming 2-2 at No. 10 Northridge (14-2-2), the same team the Minutemen will face in Wednesday’s semifinals.

“We allowed them time and space,” McCuen said of his team’s first meeting against Warsaw. “We didn’t dictate the pressure and mandate the pressure on the ball, and I think us putting pressure on the ball (caused) foreseeable errors tonight, and we capitalized on that, so hats off to my kids.”

In the regular-season meeting, the Tigers peppered Concord with 15 shots on goal, while the Minutemen never managed even one.

In the rematch, Concord registered 10 shots on goal to Warsaw’s six. Corner kicks were 4-2 in favor of the Minutemen after being 6-1 in favor of the Tigers last time.

“We started the season with three in the back,” McCuen said. “After the Warsaw game, we moved to four in the back and played a 4-5-1, and I think that solidified some stuff.”

The Tigers still mounted several genuine threats to score, but misfired on a few and saw a couple others greeted by strong stops from Concord sophomore keeper Jose Martinez Hernandez.

Senior Blake Burns, Warsaw’s leading scorer on the season with 13 goals and 31 points, suffered an upper leg injury early in the game, but continued to play. He got into prime position multiple times, but his shots were usually off the mark.

“He got hurt right at the beginning of the game, and he said, ‘Hey, I’m a senior, I’m going to stay in the game,” Courtois said of Burns, “(but) you could tell he was nursing it.”

The Tigers, who started nine seniors on Monday and will graduate 16 from their roster, improved from 9-3-6 a year ago to this fall’s 14-4.

“It was a great season,” Courtois said. “We ended up with (about the same number of losses), but the kids are really improved. We had a good team, good players.”