The Sierra League champs got their shot at revenge Wednesday in a regional semifinal matchup at Damonte Ranch. But for the large contingent of Red and White faithful, it witnessed the second-seeded Cougars pull off a repeat, sneaking into the regional championship game with their second straight 1-0 victory in the playoffs.
“In high school soccer, the mindset means a lot,” SSHS boys soccer coach Rob Moreland said. “You can psyche a team out by beating them. Plus, you’re high on yourself. I think we were ready for this game, even though they played well. Wooster had chances.”
After playing to a scoreless draw in the first half, the second half was shaping up to be the same.
But one Cougar was in the right place at the right time and provided the only scoring in the game, despite Spanish Springs not manufacturing much of its own offense.
In the 64th minute, Spanish Springs had a corner kick, looking to take advantage of a set piece. The corner sailed out of the top of the box with no one getting a shot off. Senior midfielder Julio Soto collected the loose ball and smashed a shot from the outside as hard as he could, just hoping for something to happen. The initial shot was knocked down, but it came back to Soto, who unleashed a shot along the ground with his left foot. Somehow it found its way through a wall of defenders, and by the time the WHS keeper saw the ball, it was already rolling past him into the far side of the goal.
“Helter skelter. You’ll take what you can get. Play tight defense and take what you can get up front,” Moreland said.
Then Spanish Springs just had to brave the Wooster onslaught for the final 15 minutes.
“Again, no goals is the key right there. Our defense is solid,” Moreland said. “Maybe we can’t score so many goals, but if they don’t score, it keeps our chances alive.”
In the first half, each team’s keeper had to make a tough save.
In the 21st minute, Spanish Springs junior goalkeeper Omar Trujillo had to back pedal on a shot from way outside the box, jumping backward and swiping away the ball over the crossbar at the last second.
Three and a half minutes later, the Wooster keeper kick saved a shot from Spanish Springs’ Gio Aguila.
“Our kids played their hearts out. Wooster is a quality team,” Moreland said.
Spanish Springs (11-5-2) will take on Carson, a 2-1 winner over Hug Wednesday, in the regional championship game at noon Saturday for the right to represent the North at state.