LAQUEY — The Sacred Heart soccer team is heading to the Final Four for the second year in a row after Francisco Rojas scored in overtime to lead the Gremlins to a 1-0 win at Laquey on Saturday.
Rojas made his way through the Hornets defense to convert on a chance with 3:41 left in the overtime.
The Gremlins controlled play most of the game but Laquey’s defense and muddy field conditions slowed the Sacred Heart attack. A rain which settled into the area Friday and did not let up until halftime of Saturday’s game made the field slick and players often lost their footing. Slick soccer balls led to passes veering wildly off-course. The wet and muddy ground slowed down passes, forcing players to stop or slow their runs to adjust and allowing defenders to close in.
“When you’re force to play on a field in conditions like this, there’s just not much you can do,” said Sacred Heart coach Travis Cooper. “You’ve got to just kind of weather the storm. … We had possession for the run of the game, we just couldn’t get it in the net. With the horrible, sloppy field conditions, you take it for what it is, you get your win and get out of here.”
Sacred Heart still managed a 14-3 edge in shots on goal in the game and had nine corner kicks to none for the Hornets.
Laquey’s chances came mainly on the counter attack. One counter in the 75th minute saw a shot go wide of the net. The Gremlins’ defense cleared away most of the others. In the 88th minute, Zach Clubb had one of Laquey’s best chances of the game, charging in on Sacred Heart keeper Sebastian Aguero, but the Gremlins’ Kolin Brace swooped in to clear it away. Chance Spangler stopped two other Laquey runs and Teagan Trammell made a key tackle late.
“Moving forward, there are no teams that are just going to lay down and give it to us,” Cooper said. “We had guys dropping and covering real well. We had some defensive mistakes that gave them some opportunities that they probably shouldn’t have had, but that’s part of the game.”
The Gremlins will face Principia at 10 a.m. Friday in Fenton in the Class 1 semifinal. Principia beat Soxony Lutheran in their quarterfinal 7-0.
In the other semifinal, Belle will face St. Paul Lutheran. The Saints beat defending state champion Barstow 7-0 while Belle got past Canton on penalty kicks.
Eric Ingles can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @Eric_Ingles