Jimmy Estrada was in a giving mood Tuesday.

The Warren Central senior forward, who ranks among the Dragons’ scoring leaders and tops the team in assists, dished out two more assists in a 2-0 victory over Greenwood in the District 14 boys’ soccer tournament semifinals at Bowling Green Junior High School.

The win secured the Dragons a place in Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. championship game against South Warren.

More importantly, the victory secured Warren Central a berth in the Region 4 tournament for the third time in the past four years.

To get there, the second-seeded Dragons had to overcome a Gators squad intent on keeping its own season alive.

Despite consistent pressure in the first half, Warren Central (6-3) had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard as the game entered the break in a scoreless tie.

Estrada helped change that in the 47th minute, when his run on on the right side of the penalty box drew out Greenwood goalkeeper Jax Buchanon. In an instant, Estrada flicked a diagonal through ball to teammate Semir Hodzic streaking through the box on the other side for an open-net goal.

“I’m trying to be more of a team player,” Estrada said. “I’m trying to be more unselfish this year.”

Estrada had his own chances, putting two dangerous shots on goal in the first 40 minutes that Buchanon managed to turn away.

“Jimmy’s been a monster for us,” Dragons coach Aaron Ray said. “Everything I could ask for in a player, Jimmy’s been it. At practice, he’s going to play hard ... it’s what we expect out of him. He’s one of those gifted players that we have in the area that can do just pretty much whatever he wants when he gets the ball at his foot.”

After helping his team break through in the second half, Estrada repeated the feat nine minutes later with a cross to teammate Leonce Ndikumana. Estrada’s pass put Ndikumana just outside the left post, and the Dragons senior tucked a shot inside it to double his team’s lead.

Like Estrada, Ndikumana had been denied on a great chance in the first half. Used by Ray as an energetic substitute, Ndikumana entered five minutes into the first half and nearly put his team up with a long ball that just caught the left post and bounced away.

“We’ve got some guys that can bring energy once they get on the field,” Ray said. “We have enough players and enough depth to kind of put people out there that are effective and efficient at what we need them to do. And then we can bring other guys off the bench who can match that intensity and sometimes exceed it. Leo is definitely one of those guys that is able to step up (the) intensity and give the team energy once he steps on the field.”

Third-seeded Greenwood (6-5-2) was outshot 14-4 in the first half and 24-5 overall, but Buchanon’s steller play between the posts kept his team in striking distance. Buchanon tallied seven first-half saves and finished with 11.

“I think at the beginning we were a little bit nervous as a team, and Jax kept it at 0-0,” Gators coach Luis Llontop said. “The good thing is that they had to earn it. We didn’t give it to them. They had to earn it. For that reason, they’re going to be a much better team.”

Greenwood’s best scoring chance came with nine minutes left in the first half. Gators senior I Jeck slipped behind the Dragons’ back line for a crossing shot at the goal, but Warren Central goalkeeper Erick Nzoribala was there to make a two-handed deflection for the save.

“We fought and we fought,” Llontop said. “Unfortunately we made a couple mistakes and that’s what happens. You can’t make any mistakes. But I told the guys I’m very proud of them.”

Ray said the Dragons’ depth was telling in the second half.

“We just needed to keep putting pressure on them,” Ray said. “We have enough numbers to kind of wear them down, to where if we don’t get anything in the first half ... second half, then we’ll be able to put some balls in the net just because we’ve been getting rest where they haven’t.”{&end}

– Follow sports editor Jeff Nations on Twitter @Jeff_NationsBG or visit bgdailynews.com.

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