BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — Carthage is competing for a state title.
The soccer Tigers beat Lutheran South, from St. Louis, to advance to the MSHSAA Soccer State Championship game against St. Dominic High School, from O'Fallon, at noon Saturday, at Blue Springs South High School.
The Tigers held the Lancers scoreless for the 2-0 win, Carthage's sixth in a row. It moves the Tigers to 22-8 and within one win of Carthage's first soccer state title ever.
Carthage Head Coach Jacob Osborn said he's telling his team to enjoy the ride.
"I've gotten advise from different coaches who have been here before and they all tell me the same thing," Osborn said. "Don't put too much stress on yourself, don't put all the focus on winning, make sure you're still having fun. It's been a struggle though; it's been a real struggle to keep the focus there because we want to win so bad."
Carthage's Victor Marin scored the Tiger's first goal, 11 minutes into the game.
"Getting that early goal really helped us," Osborn said. "That made it so we could just hang back and let them make mistakes. Our pressure the entire game really gave them problems."
The Tigers maintain possession for much of the first half, something that has been a trademark of this team.
"Those are our strengths, our speed, our ability to pressure the ball and our skill, so that's part of our game plan, that's how we play," Osborn said.
Osborn said the Tigers used speed to counteract the Lancers' size advantage.
"I would rather have speed than size, personally, and just grind it on them," Osborn said. "That's why they were getting frustrated there because every loose ball, we were the first one there, whenever they had the ball there were two or three guys on them."
Ismael Seratos, the Tigers' all-time leading scorer, put the game out of reach with Carthage's second goal at the 50-minute mark.
The Tigers spent much of the rest of the game playing defense and keeping the Lancers out of Carthage's goal.
"It's a game of inches and half inches," said Lutheran South's head coach Jerry Amsler. "We hit the post once. If that shot goes in, it's a different ball game, but it didn't. They played a great game."