The Carthage Tigers return to the Quarterfinals for the third time in four years, the last two as a Class 2 program. They reached the Final in 2012, losing to two-time champion St Dominic. They travel to Jefferson City to face Helias Catholic Saturday in a game that kicks off at 1:00 pm in the hopes of returning for the second straight year. Here’s a look at the program this year by a new contributor. It was written in early October so I’ve updated it to reflect the results the boys have achieved in reaching this level yet again.
Head Coach Jacob Osborne would tell you that, though coming off of the best season in school history and losing several key players to graduation, the Carthage Tigers are looking to improve, rather than rebuild, upon last yearâ€™s success. Achieving this goal will be far easier to discuss than to actually achieve, but the Tigers are undeniably off to a very solid and promising start.
The 2012 edition of Carthage Soccer saw the boys make their first trip to the State Final Four since 2004, this time earning a 2nd place trophy for their efforts. Naturally, that squad graduated a handful of talented athletes. Midfielders Erik Estrada (2nd Team All-State) and Victor Lopez (2nd Team All-State) dominated the center of the field all season long, Misael Maturino (1st Team All-State) ran the sweeper position with a coolness that landed him at Neosho County Community College, and Ismael Serratos (1st Team All-State & 2012 Class 2 Offensive Player of the Year), is currently playing for the St. Louis Scott Gallagher Academy while attending Southwest Illinois CC (SWIC).
Despite these losses, the 2013 squad continues to impress. Up top, Carthage will not be able to replace Serratos. Players like Ismael donâ€™t come around every year. Some programs never see a kid like him. So far, goals have come from all over the pitch, not one or two stand out individuals. And while one can often read the names of two promising sophomores and a freshman striker on the scoresheet, goals arenâ€™t really how the Tigers are doing business this year. If the Tigers are to see the successes of last year matched or improved upon, they will be looking to do it with possession of the ball and defense. And so far, the back four – with 6 players currently getting quality time – and goalkeeper Jose Alberto look up to the task.
The three returning starters in the back – Mario Zuniga, Miguel Henriquez, and Jessy Alvarado – along with three others vying for time, have been stellar and are continuing to improve their understanding, shape, and organization. In the ten games played so far, the defense and Alberto have allowed only five goals. In the most competitive games they have played – Catholic twice, Glendale, Nixa, Farmington – they have allowed only three. This trend will need to continue if the Tigers are to make waves again in the Class 2 postseason this year.
Carthage will be playing the most difficult schedule in the programâ€™s history this year (kudos to Osborne for making competition, not wins, the goal of the regular season), and the toughest of their matches will be played in October. Aside from regulars Willard (1-0 win), Joplin (1-0 win), and Kickapoo (cancelled, weather) , the boys will be making their third appearance in the Gateway Classic (1-2 record including win over Nixa), they have finally earned their way into the Gold Division of the Kickapoo Tournament and open with Leeâ€™s Summit West (currently ranked 3rd in Class 3, 0-4 loss followed by two wins), and will finish the month playing a weekend gig against Helias (1-2 loss) and Smithville (2-0 win). This stretch will reveal much about the character of the squad. Wins will not be as important as getting betterâ€¦.
Until the postseason, where only winning matters. They’ll face Helias, a team that beat them 2-1 three weeks ago, to decide who makes the coveted trip to the Final Four.
Here’s the entire Quarterfinal Calendar. Good luck to Springfield Catholic, Carthage and Glendale in their Quarterfinal matches Saturday!
#8 St Pius X falls 0-1 to #2 Burroughs in the 1st OT period
#11 Kennedy falls 0-2 to #1 SoBoCo on a pair of goals in each period
#4 Sacred Heart loses 2-3 to #2 Catholic in 1st OT after giving up a 2-0 1st half lead
#7 St Pius X wins 3-2 over St Paul Lutheran
St Mary’s wins 3-1 over #11 Perryville
#3 Ladue falls 0-2 to #1 St Dominic (at Pattonville)
#10 Helias loses 0-4 to #4 Carthage
Raytown South wins 1-0 over #8 Liberty North
#12 Timberland wins in PK’s over Howell Central following a 1-1 draw
Eureka falls in PK’s to #7 SLUH (at Soccer Park) after a scoreless draw
#3 Rock Bridge falls 0-1 to Glendale on a 75th minute goal
Staley loses 0-2 to #8 Rockhurst