|Wildcats advance after 3-1 win over No. 6-ranked Athens|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
April 1, 2006 - LONGVIEW - The history making season for the Sulphur Springs Wildcats continues for another week following Friday night's 3-1 victory over No. 6-ranked Athens Hornets in the Class 4A, Region 2 quarterfinals at Pine Tree High School.
"It is special and I have been in Sulphur Springs for a long time, and I have seen those guys, and to see what they have built, and now it has turned into this," said SSHS coach Andy Holt. "It is a tradition now and they stepped up to the challenge and did an outstanding job tonight."
With the win, the Wildcats added another mark in the SSHS annals.
Sulphur Springs (24-4) is now the first team in school history to advance to the Class 4A, Region 2 semifinals against Midlothian at a site and time to be determined either Monday or Tuesday night. They also have the most wins of any Wildcats soccer team and are the third team to win a playoff game.
"I don't know much about Midlothian, but I know when you get to this level they are going to be teams like Athens, and they are going to be good, solid teams," Hold said.
Midlothian defeated Dallas Hillcrest, 2-1, to advance to the semifinal contest against Sulphur Springs.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 1-0 lead just seven minutes into the game as Rolando Larios blasted a shot from 20-yards out that Athens goalie Angel Nava misplayed, and Daniel Santillan went top shelf on the rebound attempt to give the Wildcats the early lead.
Nava came into the contest giving up 11 goals on the season and had a 0.50 GAA for the Hornets.
With 13:45 remaining in the first half, Spenser Daniel used his 6-2 frame to record his 11th goal of the season on a header off a Santillan corner kick for the 2-0 lead.
"This is great and it has never been done before, and we have finally done it, and this is awesome," Daniel said. "I was able to score me a goal and an assists and that is what I wanted. We always work on shooting on the goalie and he is a great goalie and we overcame that tonight."
SSHS goalie Jeremy Potter once again had an outstanding game for the Wildcats in preserving the 2-0 halftime lead after Athens' Brian Abadie attempted a bicycle kick from eight-yards out with 1:30 remaining in the first half.
Holt said the guys knew what was on the line in the quarterfinal matchup and played as well as they could play during the game.
"Our guys flat out played tonight, and they laid everything on the line and we outplayed them tonight," the coach said. "We gutted it out and we took advantage of the opportunities, and we finished when we had the chances."
After a goal by Athens' Angel Chairez - who had 20 goals and 11 assists coming into the contest - made the score 2-1 with 37:31 remaining, the Wildcats made one of the most spectacular plays of the year.
On the final goal by SSHS, Santillan kept a ball alive in the 18-yard box to Daniel - who headed the ball over to Chris Rodgers - as the senior blasted a side volley shot past Nava to put the game out of reach.
"That was a great finish on that third goal," Holt said. "This season has been something special for me because these guys have been with me ever since I got here, and we have built this thing. Those guys have gone beyond my dreams and we are right where we need to be."