BEDFORD - For the fourth time in the past five years, the Bedford boys soccer team will play for a district championship.
The Bisons clinched yet another spot in the District 5-6 Class AA finals Monday with a 2-1 semifinal win over Westmont Hilltop.
Bedford takes on Somerset 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Hollidays-burg's Tiger Stadium in the finals.
The two teams are about as evenly matched as possible. They shared the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference title with matching 12-1-2 records, and both of their regular season meetings ended in ties.
Bedford won district championships in 2010 and 2007 but lost in the 2008 finals.
"These guys have been coming up through the system since 2003," first-year coach Jeff Thomas said. "I've coached most of them since they were young. That's where it starts for any good program. You can't start playing catch-up when they hit high school."
Bedford did, however, have to play catch-up against Westmont.
The Hilltoppers took it to Bedford early on and went up 1-0 on Dom Ramirez's goal just over seven minutes into the contest. Keeper James Jeffries kept it from being any worse, making a handful of key saves in the opening minutes.
Bedford came to life after the Westmont goal and controlled the remainder of the game.
"We weren't sharp at all early. Once they scored that seemed to wake us up," Thomas said.
Stephen Calhoun pulled Bedford even with a goal at the 9:51 mark of the first half.
"He's been scoring important goals for us all year. When we've really needed it, he's come through," Thomas said.
Sam Felix got the game-winner two minutes later. Westmont keeper Ben Zurilla made the initial save, but the ball popped up in the air, hit off his heel and trickled into the far right corner of the net.
"He was out of balance, the ball was spinning too fast and he slipped on the wet field," Westmont coach Juan Valencia said. "We made a couple mistakes, and that cost us the game. We'll learn and grow from those mistakes."
Lalo Munoz nearly gave Bedford a two-goal lead later in the half. Munoz maneuvered around two defenders, but his shot from about 15 yards was a little too high and sailed just over the crossbar.
The second half turned into a defensive struggle with both teams struggling to create scoring opportunities.
"It was crazy how much room we were giving [Ramirez] in the first half," Thomas said. "I told the team to stick to him like glue in the second half."
SCORE BY HALVES
Westmont Hilltop 1 0 - 1
Bedford 2 0 - 2
First Half: WH-Ramirez (unassisted), 32:42; B-Calhoun (unassisted), 9:51; B-Felix (Stroup), 6:49.
Records: Westmont Hilltop (12-5-1); Bedford (17-1-2).