By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
As they exuberantly shouted from a postgame huddle, the Republic Tigers are “not done yet.”
Not after the first district championship in program history. Not after the first playoff victory in program history.
And, presumably, not after one of the most surprising outcomes in recent southwest Missouri soccer history.
Republic knocked off No. 2-ranked Glendale 2-1 Saturday afternoon on a late goal from record-setting striker Dylan Brown.
“We shocked some people beating Carthage (in districts) two weeks ago,” Brown said. “But, we’re not done yet.”
The Tigers (23-4 overall) are headed to the state soccer final four for the first time ever. Republic meets either Parkway Central (18-8-1) or Ft. Zumwalt South (14-12-1) in the Class 3 semifinals at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 10 at the World Wide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton.
The Tigers are only three years removed from their first winning season (2014).
“This year we’ve had our first district title, first sectional win, why not the first trip to the final four?” said Republic coach Kevin Hauck. “They were able to get it done today. It’s pretty special.”
Brown’s goal in the 77th minute came on a staple of Republic’s system: the counter attack.
Midfielder and senior co-captain Trenton Roetto won possession near midfield. With the Glendale back line quickly pinching down to Brown, Roetto found an open Drew Flippin on the right side to start the transition.
As Glendale’s defense shifted out toward Flippin, he worked the ball back to an open Brown in the middle. The prolific scorer did the rest, taking a few dribbles before firing home the game-winner that sent Republic to state.
“One time, the ball’s down there (on the opposite end of the field) and next I know, I’m shooting it,” Brown said.
Added Hauck: “Something we’ve been really good at all year is countering. It was a good transition for us and we did a great job of finishing.”
Glendale dominated possession and total shots for the majority of the match, but it was Republic going ahead first in the ninth minute on a Brown header.
With two goals on Saturday, Brown now has 54 goals for the season (top 10 all-time in MSHSAA history) and 105 for his career.
Glendale peppered the Republic goal with shots over the next 40-plus minutes and finally broke through in the 52nd minute. Sophomore Grant Compere’s shot was partially deflected by Republic’s goalkeeper, but the shot was strong enough to continue across the goal line and tie the match.
“It was a heartbreaker, but (28) minutes is a long time,” Roetto said. “You have to be faithful in your team and just keep going at it. You can never give up on it.”
While it’s Republic’s first trip to state in program history, the Falcons were trying to add even more accolades to their rich history.
They earned the 21st district championship in program history on Oct. 25, beating West Plains, and were seeking their sixth final four appearance. Glendale last went to state in 2014.
“Our coach told us from the beginning: there’s no pressure on us,” Roetto said. “Glendale’s a great team. They play top-quality teams from St. Louis and Kansas City, so I think (Glendale) had this mindset that, ‘We can beat (Republic).’ They just slipped up. We came in and we did our thing.”