Carthage High School boys soccer coach Jacob Osborne summed up the feelings of many in attendance Saturday at the Fair Acres Sports Complex in Carthage.
"It feels amazing right now," Osborne said.
Those words came moments after the Tigers defeated visiting Rolla 2-0 in the Class 2 quarterfinals, making Carthage one of four teams still in the hunt for a championship.
Carthage will play at 1 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
"Outstanding defense," Osborne said. "Our defense this year has been inconsistent for us. We had a game plan coming in because we knew how dangerous they were and the kids were so disciplined today in executing. They could not have executed it any better. They really couldn't."
Carthage improves to 21-8 with the win, and Rolla ends its season with a 24-4 record.
Facing a stiff wind in the first half, the Tigers battled Rolla to a scoreless tie at the break. But with that wind at their backs in the second period, Carthage took a 1-0 lead when senior Victor Lopez scored off an assist by junior Henry Oxlaj in the 47th minute.
"We knew that was going to be crucial," Osborne said. "As soon as we had the coin toss and knew we would be facing the wind the first half, we knew we had to try to get it to halftime with zeros. I just wanted to get out of there tied because with their game they rely on a lot of set pieces, and with the wind that helps them and going against it makes it a lot more tough."
"I was really excited to score one of the goals that would lead us to the next round," Lopez said after the game. "I just remember that all my teammates fought for the ball and never gave up. Henry Oxlaj tipped the ball and gave me the pass."
"Victor, he's got a great outside shot," Osborne said. "Sometimes he's a little too patient taking it. That was actually in the game plan as well, for Victor to hit more shots from outside, especially with the wind at our back. He had some space and it was a great shot."
A Rolla own goal in the 74th minute sealed the win for the Tigers.
"It feels really great," Lopez said. "It's been a long time. We're really excited to go back and see how far we can go this year. We're very confident. We're pumped, we're ready to go. We're excited to be there."
Carthage will face 22-5-1 Lutheran South High School at 1 p.m. Friday at Blue Springs High School. The third-place game will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Blue Springs, and the title game will be at noon Saturday at Blue Springs South High School.
Page 2 of 2 - The other semifinal game will feature either Parkway Central, St. Dominic, Center or Smithville.
"I'm proud of all my teammates, my coaches and our fans for always supporting us and believing in us," Lopez said.