CLASS 5A, REGION 1 FINAL
Buchholz advances to state semifinals
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 12:20 a.m.
Great defense usually wins championships.
And in the boys soccer state playoffs, Buchholz has been playing a lot of it.
On Tuesday, the Bobcats posted their fourth straight shutout and 10th of the season, blanking Oviedo, 1-0, in the Class 5A, Region 1 finals at Jonesville Soccer Complex.
The victory propels Buchholz, ranked No. 2 nationally by MaxPreps, into Friday's state semifinals for the first time in school history. The Bobcats (18-1-4) will play at Region 2 champion Winter Garden West Orange (18-0), a 2-1 double-overtime winner at Tarpon Springs East Lake.
Bobcat junior Diego Fisher scored the lone goal at the 15-minute mark of the first half, punching a ball that had bounced off Oviedo goalkeeper Kyndie Cobb into the net.
From there, it was defense, defense, defense. And like it did against Jacksonville Mandarin in Saturday's regional semifinals, Buchholz scored first and then let its D take over.
“This is awesome, just being able to make history with these guys, it feels good,” said Buchholz second-year coach Andy Aulick. “The guys did a lot of conditioning at the beginning of the season and we played a tough schedule, which I think is really paying off in these late games.
“I am really impressed with the defense. They stay together, work for each other and really get the job done back there.”
The Lions (18-2-3), who were also looking for their first-ever state semifinal berth, had several shots at Buchholz goalkeeper Hunter Patrick, particularly in the second half. But Patrick, who had eight saves, was able to turn back every threat as Oviedo was unable to get any solid shots at the net.
“That's props to my defense, holding them out like that,” Patrick said. “It feels great. No other team has done this from Buchholz. All we have to do is win Friday and we are in the championship.
“There is always pressure, but if we play our game, we can shut them down like we have done the last three games.”
The Bobcats came out aggressive offensively right from the start, putting pressure on Oviedo's defense and Cobb. And 15 minutes in, Fisher was just at the right place at the right time.
“I just saw the ball coming out at me and I tried to get a foot on it and it worked out perfectly,” said the junior midfielder. “We wanted to get an early goal and ride it out from there. After that first hurdle we can just play our game.
“It feels great, our team is really good this year. This is the last year for a lot of us. Hopefully we will go all the way.”
It was the third straight home playoff game for the Bobcats, who will make their first postseason road trip on Friday. Oviedo, which had just three starting seniors, would have hosted Tuesday's match but lost to Lake Howell in its district final. As league runners-up, the Lions couldn't host if facing a district champion. The Bobcats had beaten Mandarin, 3-1, to win District 1.
“It feels really good, really good,” said midfielder Chris Cornell, one of 13 Buchholz seniors “We haven't given up a goal in the last four games. Honestly, I would not take another three guys to play back there with me out of anyone. We got the two best holding mids that I have ever played with.
“I think defense is the best part of our team. All we do is just hold it the rest of the game. I just love our defense.”
Also advancing to Friday's 5A state semifinals are Region 3 champion Boca Raton (25-2), which will play at Region 4 champion Weston Cypress Bay (16-2-4).
Aulick doesn't see the upcoming road trip, the first of the postseason, to be a problem for this Bobcats.
“If anything I think it is fun for them to travel together and hang out on the bus,” he said. “We prefer to have the home-field advantage, but if we can't get it, we will play our best game there.”
Contact Larry Savage at 352-374-5050 or firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/sunpreps
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