Soccer on a roll heading into state tourney
And then there were four.
The De Soto Wildcat soccer team has soared into the state semi-finals after it took down Maranatha 3-0 Tuesday at the Overland Park Soccer Complex.
“It means so much to these seniors,” coach Darren Erpelding said. “It means so much to these players, to our school, to this program. We have so much school support. This was a great result.”
The Wildcats haven’t been to the state tournament since 2003, and Erpelding said he believed this team had what it took to go all the way.
“Ever since that Blue Valley North game, even though we didn’t win, for us to be able to keep it close, that was a huge turning point in our season,” he said. “Our form has improved every week since then, it’s something we’ve worked on every week in practice.”
The Wildcats dominated the entire match, tallying more than three times the shots on goal than the Eagles did.
De Soto created its first chance of the game off a corner kick three minutes into the match when Jordan Riffel made goalkeeper Alex Siemers dive and tip the ball over the goal to keep the score tied.
The draw lasted another 28 minutes until senior Andrew Konetzni hammered home a volley from 12 yards out to give De Soto a 1-0 lead, which it took into halftime.
Octavio Villa provided the second goal 24 minutes into the second half after nailing a rebounded shot with his left foot. The third and final tally came from Keith Hoover with just more than four minutes remaining in the contest as he kicked the ball off Siemers’ leg and into the net.
A celebration ensued as the Wildcat faithful stormed the pitch to meet the players and Erpelding at midfield. De Soto advanced to Tuesday’s game by beating defending state champ K.C. Christian 2-0.
It was a scoreless game the first half, but in the second half, De Soto had the wind at its back and controlled possession most of the final half. The Wildcats had several scoring opportunities in the first 20 minutes, but couldn’t score.
But the Wildcats finally broke through with 11 minutes to go when Riffel outran the last defender and put up a shot near the goal. The ball bounced off the keeper’s hands and landed in the back of the net.
Christian countered with two late drives into the box, but goalkeeper Tyler Buffkin swallowed up both attempts. Brett Hevel then put the game away with a goal from distance with 1:04 to play.
“These guys have worked their tails off,” Erpelding said following the win over K.C. Christian. “It couldn’t happen to a better group of kids.”
De Soto will play against Elbing-Berean Academy at 7 p.m. Friday at Towanda-Circle High School. Should the Wildcats win that match, they will play Saturday for the state title.