SPRING HILL — After the first half of Tuesday night's Class 5A, District 7 semifinal, it looked like the trends of the regular season would stay the same. The second half was a different story.
Central turned the tables to emerge with a 2-1 win over Springstead and a their ticket to the state playoffs next week.
Springstead (14-6), which held a pair of 2-0 victories over the Bears from earlier in the season, came out in this game that it had in the others. After seeing Central (11-3-3) struggle offensively, the Eagles broke through for the first goal when Michael Hogeland headed the ball into the back of the net off of a corner kick from Josh Pierce.
"(At halftime), we talked about playing 80 minutes and not letting one mistake end our season," Central coach Hank Deslaurier said. "That was what we didn't do the last couple times we played (Springstead.)"
The players must have been listening, especially keeper Anthony Kaspars and leading scorer Omar Odulaja.
Kaspars, a first-year keeper, played aggressively, saving six shots and cutting off multiple passes in the vicinity of the net. It was a change from his normally cautious style.
"Usually I'd sit back and let the defense do most of the work," Kaspars said, "but this is our district semifinal."
The firepower was provided by Odulaja on his 21st and 22nd goals of the season. His first score came when he stole the ball from Springstead keeper Nick Allegra before putting it past him to tie the contest less than 10 minutes into the second half.
The junior forward missed an opportunity to put the Bears ahead minutes later when he put a penalty kick wide left. He redeemed himself with 15:31 remaining when he took a throw-in and drilled it past Allegra.