SPRING HILL — After bumping up to Class 5A, District 7 this season, Springstead is returning to the state playoffs for the third time in four seasons.
The Eagles shut out Central 3-0 in the district semifinals to clinch that berth Tuesday night.
After a slow start, Springstead (14-3) broke through for the opening goal when Cally Quinn headed in a corner kick from Ashley Walker with only 2:36 remaining before halftime. Quinn, a first-year senior transfer, is also one of Springstead's captains.
Springstead coach Polo Furlong attributed the low-scoring first half to Central (3-13-1). However, solid defense and goaltending from Eagles sophomore Monica Vega (three saves) held the Bears scoreless.
"It's very hard to score against when the other team has 11 players jammed in the box," Furlong said. "The second half was much different."
Without Springstead leading scorer Tara Vasquez (12 goals), who missed the game with an injured foot, multiple players were counted on to pick up the slack.
"Eleven players have to participate equally," Furlong said, "and that's what we got tonight."
When Cristina Passafaro and Kimberly Smith added two more goals in the second half to put the game out of reach, the Eagles punched their ticket to the district final. Furlong expects Vasquez to suit up for Thursday's game at Springstead.