Back-to-back champs: Springwood wins thriller in Montgomery

Published 11:53 pm Friday, April 19, 2024

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The Springwood Wildcats needed every second to do it, but they got it done nonetheless. Springwood soccer now holds the title of back-to-back state champs after their thrilling  8-6 penalty kick win over Fort Dale Academy on Friday night. 

“The way we started off the game, the momentum was all ours,” Springwood coach John Lanier said. “We knew that was a great team, they’re going to come back. They did, we just hung in there. Got to penalties, we’ve been practicing [those] all week. We knew that might come. The guys were ready, they stepped up and took care of it.” 

After overtime finished with a 4-4 deadlock, it all came down to penalties, but Springwood dominated that segment of the game. 

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After the Patriots missed their first attempt, Jakob Boss connected on his and gave the Wildcats the 5-4 edge. Fort Dale missed the second and Guilherme Teixeira knocked through his third goal of the game to make it 6-4. 

The Patriots finally made their next two attempts, but Springwood just could not miss. Jacob Burton scored his attempt before Ethan Mabrey scored on Springwood’s final attempt to seal the game. 

“Those guys were just locked in,” Lanier said. “The moment wasn’t too big for them. They were ready for it… It’s a high-pressure situation, and those guys stepped up and hit them when they could.” 

Springwood dominated the early stages of the game. Teixeira got the scoring started as he found himself alone with the keeper and slotted it past him to give Springwood a 1-0 lead.

The Wildcats continued to capitalize on the momentum as Ryan Fuller put another ball in the back of the net just over two minutes later. Then, Teixeira scored again and gave the Wildcats a 3-0 lead just over 20 seconds later. 

The Patriots rallied and scored two unanswered before Burton scored his first goal of the game to give the Wildcats a 4-2 lead at the half. 

Fort Dale Academy owned the second half and scored two more unanswered goals, with the last one coming with just under seven minutes left in regulation to level the match at four goals apiece.

The special part about this Springwood team has been its leadership. The Wildcats have a host of seniors this season. Springwood was dealing with several injuries, and Crawford Fuller was a key piece missing from the pitch. Fuller still made his presence known, leading huddles, barking orders and doing whatever he could to help his team win. 

“He’s a huge part of the team,” Lanier said. “I would’ve loved to have him out there tonight. He was a huge part of the team on the bench there… He’s a fantastic leader.” 

Springwood avenged its one loss of the season on Friday and finished with a 13-1 record on the season. The Wildcats have won two straight championships and have advanced to the state championship in three straight seasons. 

This group of seniors for Springwood has been more than special, and they will be missed on the pitch, but their impact on the program should help the Wildcats continue to be the premier program in the AISA. 

“I’ve had a lot of them all four years, some of them more,” Lanier said. “They’ve just been huge leaders, a huge part of this team and this school. We’re going to miss these guys, and I’m so proud that we could send them out with a championship.”