Spanish Springs improved to 13-0-2 thanks to a 7-0 road romp at McQueen Wednesday afternoon.
"In the first half, we were shooting the ball all over the place, but we settled down in the second half and knocked it around better," SSHS coach Rob Moreland said. "We took advantage of our opportunities a little better. It was nice to see the guys spread the game out and pass, play the game relaxed."
Spanish Springs out-shot McQueen 16-1 in the first half, but managed just a 1-0 advantage at halftime. The Cougars' lone first-half goal came in the 22nd minute Gabby Velasquez scored on a give-and-go sequence up the middle of the field. Jonathon Garcia gave away the assist.
Unfortunately for McQueen, the Spanish Springs offense opened the floodgates in the second half. The Cougars posted four goals in a nine-minute span early in the second half. That onslaught started when Cougars goalkeeper Omar Trujillo punted a ball deep into McQueen territory. Victor Garcia tracked down the kick and chipped it over the McQueen goalie, who was coming out on the play. The goal came in the 42nd minute.
Spanish Springs then proceeded to tack on goals in the 45th, 49th and 51st minutes, extending its edge to 5-0. Jonathon Andrede, Garcia and Velasquez scored the trio of goals respectively. Andrede and Garcia's goals were unassisted tallies while Marshall Andrews contributed an assist on the Velasquez goal.
The scoring was concluded when Chris Moreland and Edwin Medina found the back of the net in the 75th and 78th minutes. Dupree Kness assisted on Moreland's score while Medina's score came on a free kick.
Spanish Springs wraps up its league schedule Oct. 30 when it travels to Reed for a 7 p.m. affair against its cross-town rival.
"Today we spread the field and played nice touch soccer," Moreland said. "McQueen couldn't keep up. The kids' vision is getting better. It's good to be peaking at this time of the year."
Spanish Springs has only even been tied twice all year. Both were by scores of 2-2, against Wooster and Galena. Moreland said those two teams, along with Galena, will likely be the Cougars' stiffest competition in the fast-approaching regional tournament. The SSHS squad has already clinched the HDL's top seed and will host a first-round playoff match Nov. 5.
"We want quicker passing and better, improved vision," Moreland said, talking about areas his team can still improve on. "We need to see the entire field so the speed of play stays quick. That's pretty much what we've been talking about this whole last part of the season. We must keep communicating and keep the teamwork going."
At North Valleys, in what was essentially a postseason play-in game for the host Panthers and Reed, North Valleys scored in the final two minutes and pulled out a 2-1 High Desert League triumph.
North Valleys got the go-ahead and game-winning goal in the 78th minute. Reed coach Joel Martinez said a North Valleys player crushed a near-perfect shot into the top right corner of the goal off a free kick from just outside the Raiders' defensive box.
The shot gave the Panthers the 2-1 lead and nixed any hopes Reed had of advancing into the regional playoffs in two weeks.
North Valleys scored first. The Panthers broke the scoreless tie with a goal in the 22nd-minute.
The 1-0 score stayed intact into halftime. Reed pulled into a 1-1 deadlock early in the second half. Anthony Chinchilla scored the unassisted goal for Reed on a free kick rocket that found the back of the net.
"Tonight was a must-win," Reed coach Joel Martinez said. " It was a great game, a hard-fought battle on both sides, not just ours. It's a tough loss but I'm proud of our boys for what they showed on the field. They left everything out there."
Reed sits 5-9-1 on the season with just one match remaining, a home contest against cross-town rival Spanish Springs, scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 30.