By Brennan Stebbins (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
AURORA, Mo. – One year removed from a third-place finish in Class 2, the Monett boys soccer team hopes to make another deep run this season.
The Cubs took an important step towards that goal on Thursday, beating Logan-Rogersville 2-0 to win the Class 2 District 11 championship on a frigid night in Aurora.
“We want to continue the tradition and continue the wins,” Monett coach Cristobal Villa said. “Hopefully it’s not over for us. This is just one step toward the final four.”
The win provided Monett’s eighth-straight district championship and was the third time in four years the Cubs have defeated the Wildcats in the finals. The run of district titles provided some added motivation for the team’s seniors, Villa said, as the group of nine didn’t want to be the senior class to end the winning streak.
“So they were focused, they played hard,” he said. “I have a good group of seniors and underclassmen as well who were stepping up and helping the team. They’re very united, they’re together, they’re a family. It means a lot.”
It was a junior who did the scoring for Monett on Thursday. Jonathan Perez-Mejia knocked in a header on a corner kick with just four seconds left in the first half for the game’s first score and he added the second in the 71st minute after beating the Rogersville goalie and another defender.
“We got out the ball, got it quick, put it in the air and he got in there and put it in the goal,” Villa said of the first score. “I think they didn’t expect that. They probably thought the clock was going to run off and we were able to capitalize on that opportunity.”
Villa was quick to tamper Monett’s enthusiasm at the half, fearful of a letdown in the final 40 minutes.
“I told them it’s a zero-zero game,” he said. “We have to play like it’s zero-zero because these kids especially, you put one in there and they tend to relax and get comfortable. Logan-Rogersville is a great team, they’ve got good kids out there and if they got the confidence and momentum they would have been really hard to stop. That’s what we tried to prevent, them getting momentum, and we tried to pressure them just as much as we can. I think that really worked for us to get this win tonight.”
Junior Eduardo Rodriguez and senior Loger Rodriguez earned assists. Monett finished with 27 shots on goal.
The loss was a disappointing way to finish the season for Rogersville, which was seeded second in the tournament behind Monett and took the Cubs to double overtime a month ago. Monett won that game 4-3.
“I didn’t think the team that showed up for us was the same team,” Rogersville coach Brett Wubbena said. “I think we felt pressured. It felt like it was a different game and that’s frustrating. I thought Monett looked good, we just looked kind of slow and tight and it was tough. I didn’t think it was our best game to play but they deserve it.”
The Wildcats finish with a 15-8 record and Thursday’s loss was just the third time all year they were shut out in a game. They scored six goals in a first-round win against Aurora on Tuesday.
“We couldn’t connect like we usually do,” Wubbena said.
“They defended well,” he said. “I thought their keeper was good with what chances he had.”
Monett, meanwhile, improved to 16-10 and has held opponents scoreless in its last four games. The Cubs will host Pleasant Hill on Nov. 12 in the sectional round.
“We are undefeated at home and hopefully we continue to stay undefeated at home,” Villa said. “We’re planning on making a run. We just have to play a game at a time and go from there but I’ve got a good group of guys, a good group of seniors and I think they can make it happen.”