LITHIA — Jamin Hollingsworth played soccer at Durant from 1996-2000 and like every Cougars team before and since, never reached the final four.
Now as a coach, Hollingsworth and the Cougars are one match away.
Connor Bass scored the winner just after the first water break and the Cougars defense held off a late assault as Durant defeated Newsome 3-1 on a chilly Tuesday night, advancing to Friday's 5A region final.
"You can talk the talk, but you have to prove it," Hollingsworth said. "The boys played with heart tonight and came in with the right mind-set."
Newsome (14-6-3) defeated the Cougars (14-7-2) in two of the team's three meetings during the year, including a 6-1 thumping Jan. 28 in the district final.
"The boys were embarrassed and they felt bad about (the district final)," Hollingsworth said. "To their credit though, they never lost confidence."
Durant's Matthew Garcia scored deep in the box just two minutes into the match but Newsome's Joey Perfetto answered with a strike nine minutes later to tie it. Then in the 21st minute, Jacob Brumbeloe won a tackle outside the 18-yard box and slid a pass to Bass, who went far post for a 2-1 lead.
"We knew we were better than what we showed against them last time," Bass said.
With Newsome pushing hard for the equalizer, Durant's Ben Salazar got his foot on a ball in a goalmouth scrum to make it 3-1 and the Cougars were able to fend off the Wolves the rest of the way.