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SPRING HILL — After a scare, Springstead is back in the state playoffs for the second consecutive season.
The Eagles, who hosted the Class 5A, District 7 semifinals, fell behind early Wednesday but battled back for a 2-1 victory over West Port to clinch a spot in Friday’s title game.
Springstead (11-1-4) was the No. 2 seed in the tournament despite having the best overall record in the district. Bound and determined to prove its supremacy, the club came out on a mission, but the defense for West Port (8-8-2) stood tall.
“They have a little bit of an unorthodox style of play,” Springstead coach Sal Calabrese said. “They started plugging everyone into the back box, and we just had trouble scoring.”
The Eagles managed to outshoot the Wolf Pack 22-3, but the game was scoreless at halftime. Coming out of the break, West Port scored the first goal on a free kick less than five minutes into the second half. Defenseman Fermin Wences headed in the kick from forward Josue Luviano.
Springstead proceeded to answer with two scores off corner kicks from Jay DeInnocentiis. The tying goal came from Gerry DeCristofaro with 17 minutes left in regulation. The intensity continued to pick up for the Eagles until, with three minutes remaining on the clock, Cody Emmerman blasted a second corner kick in for the go-ahead score.
“We had to get this win,” DeInnocentiis said. “We really came out pumped up in the second half, and we started pushing up on offense more and more.”
Central, which tied the Eagles twice in the regular season, cruised to victory in its semifinal over Forest, 4-1.
Like its counterpart in the championship game, Central fell behind 1-0 to Forest (9-13-1), but it answered with a barrage of offense.
Thanks to two goals each from Omar Odulaja (16 goals) and David Vitola (eight), the Bears (8-7-3) were able to clinch a spot in the postseason from their top-seed position in the bracket.