Better make that record 17-0-0.
After being held scoreless in the first half by Shelton, the undefeated Stadium High School boys soccer team found their groove to the tune of four goals in the second half for a 4-0 win over the Highclimbers.
“From now on, its loser out. Every game is a big game,” said Tigers head coach Raphael Cox. “That with us being ranked so highly, everyone is going to have extra incentive to take that number one seed away. We’re going to get everyone’s best game.”
The best games are yet to come for the Tigers as they clinch a berth in the 3A state boys soccer tournament, but they still had a hard time against the Highclimbers for a while.
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Throughout the first half, Stadium was able to find open holes and lanes to get shots off, but they couldn’t figure out how to get past Shelton’s senior goalkeeper Cody Bragg.
Stadium kept moving the ball and shooting at Bragg until freshman forward Braeden Pryor finally pushed one through in the 58th minute.
“I knew once we did that, we have a lot of weapons and somebody was going to open him up,” Cox said.
Four minutes later, senior captain Paul Wadsworth launched a kick from far out that squeaked by Bragg, and just like that the Tigers were up 2-0.
“I think we were kind of nervous (in) the first half. Once the second half hit we clicked,” Wadsworth said. “Just that with my ability, why not take a shot? And so I did.”
Obviously, it worked out.
The Tigers relentlessly attacked the Highclimbers’ defense in the second half as well, thanks to a red card issued to Ryder Satak around the 35th minute.
“The red card put them at a disadvantage and it definitely helped us,” Cox said. “At that point, they have to sit in and try to come at us and attack. And with a man down, that put them in a really tough position.”
The Highclimbers’ offensive playmaker was held down as well, being kept in check by Stadium’s tough defense.
Anytime the ball came near Satak, or he was dribbling it through the pitch, at least two defenders would come up and try to force the ball away from him.
“We all work for each other. I think today was a really good showing of what we can do and where we can go,” Wadsworth said. “We play hard and are very technical out there.”
The final goals were scored by Kendall Burks in the 69th minute and by Josh Tucker in added time.
“It feels amazing to win,” Cox said. “This team has earned the right to go to state and we are going to take it one game at a time. They played great tonight.”