By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
NEOSHO, Mo. – It was a night of firsts on Tuesday at Bob Anderson Stadium in Neosho.
For Parkview, it was the first time the Vikings had ever played in a sectional playoff game.
And it was the first time Wildcats had ever won one.
Yahir Ruiz scored the go-ahead goal in the 48th minute and Neosho came from behind to beat Parkview 2-1 on Tuesday night in the sectional round of the Class 3 boys soccer playoffs.
“I played for Neosho and I was jealous today,” Wildcats coach James Carter said. “I didn’t get to do this. To play a sectional game at home and then to win it, they’ll never forget it. It’s been a fun year and this was a fun game.”
Neosho, 13-10-1, won the District 12 tournament last week for the second-straight year, but the 2017 season ended with a 5-2 sectional loss to Republic.
“The program’s won districts four times, but we’ve never won the sectional game,” Carter said. “I told the team, we’ve been talking about it, it’s just another chance for them to make history. They won back-to-back district titles. That’s never been done before. To win the sectional game, that’s never been done before. And you get the added bonus of being able to do it at home.”
Parkview finished the season 13-15.
The Vikings struck first, scoring in the 20th minute when junior midfielder Ennio Magri knocked in a loose ball from the left side in the aftermath of a free kick. They had other scoring chances, too, including a direct free kick in the final minutes of the game that was wide left by a foot.
Neosho tied the game in the 27th minute when Ruiz, a junior forward, scored on a breakaway.
“We set school history obviously, winning first-ever districts,” Parkview coach Shelby Stewart said. “I had a lot of alumni reach out to me. I think we set the standard on where Parkview soccer can and will be from now on. We came up a little bit short but I thought they played a hard game. We just came up short.”
Stewart noted that playing on a grass playing surface – a rare experience for the Vikings – didn’t help.
“I don’t think that made us lose by any means,” she said. “(Neosho) worked hard, they really wanted it. Not that our guys didn’t want it, I just think they had that extra little push at times where they broke through the seal and scored.”
Carter said his team was the aggressor, and he liked the Wildcats’ chances once they went up by a goal.
“I thought if we got a goal up we’d really be okay because I didn’t think they were set up today to attack, I thought they were set up to defend,” he said.
As for Ruiz’s two-goal night, Carter told him before the game to put it away if he got a breakaway.
“I give him a hard time because honestly he’s got a lot of breakaways this year and he doesn’t always finish them,” Carter said.
“He just smiled and he did,” he said. “He’s a great athlete. Of course, and he’ll tell you this, he’s got 10 guys behind him to support him. They all did a good job tonight.”
The Wildcats held a 12-5 advantage in shots on goal.
Neosho advances to face Glendale on Saturday in the quarterfinals. The Falcons, 19-7, beat Rolla 2-0 on Tuesday.