Posted: Friday, 08 November 2013 9:41PM

Joplin downs Kickapoo in OT to claim district title

Springfield, Mo. (For  -- It took two halves and a minute of overtime for the Joplin Eagles to knock off the Kickapoo Chiefs 2-1 and claim the Class 3, District 12 championship.

With a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation the game would be decided on a Luis Santillian goal just over a minute into overtime.
“We talked about how we needed to create more opportunities to put the ball in front of the net and give us some chances to score,” said Eagles head coach Ed Miller.  “Chances were hard to come by early on but these guys never quit and I’m really proud of them.”
The Chiefs possessed the ball in Joplin’s half of the field for much of the game and had several opportunities to score.
“That’s why we try to do as much as we can,” said Kickapoo head coach Phil Hodge. “The best defense is if we can keep the ball away from the other team and it was working for us early.”
Joplin on the other hand had few scoring chances in the first half, but made the most of them.
One of those chances came with 10:11 left in the first half when Santillian made a long run down the right side of the field. After nearly cutting off his angle he made a brilliant pass to Edward McAllister who found a wide-open Oswaldo Gomez for a 1-0 lead.
The Chiefs answered right back when, with 2:17 left in the first half, captain Austin Reinold dribbled to the top of the Eagles box and sent a perfect pass to streaking Josh Ellerbee for the equalizer.
The game would remain deadlocked for the entirety of the second half despite several opportunities by the Chiefs.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” said Hodge. “Especially in this caliber of a game where one goal can send you to sectionals.”
After lacking shots throughout regulation, Miller told his team to take advantage of the wind and put pressure on the Chiefs keeper by dumping the ball towards the net.
“Coach told us to just shoot the ball because the wind here was crazy,” said Santillian. “We figured the ball was going to carry because of the wind and we barely attempted any shots on goal the whole game.”
Overtime was over almost before it started. Just over a minute into overtime McAllister picked up a ball just outside of the Chiefs box and chipped it to Santillian who unloaded a shot that keeper Quinn Ruggeri couldn’t handle for the 2-1 win.
“This goal means a lot to me,” said Santillian. “This is the first time we have won districts in the four years I’ve been here so to get that goal in that spot was a big deal to me and my teammates.”
The Eagles will visit Glendale for sectionals on Tuesday.

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