SPRING HILL — This was Springstead's chance.
Friday, the undefeated Eagles were looking to take their place where they believed they belonged: at the top of the Class 5A, District 7 standings.
For the second time this season, Central wasn't having it as the county rivals tied 1-1.
Springstead (7-0-3, 2-0-3) still hasn't lost a game and dominated the time of possession.
The Eagles struck first off the foot of Nathan Leathers in the first half. The senior midfielder celebrated his team-leading sixth goal after receiving a pass from Jay DeInnocentiis.
The home team outshot Central (4-5-2, 3-0-2) 11-4 but was unable to push across another goal.
"They found themselves going down to a team that was inferior to them at the half," Central coach Alex Viramontes said. "That's frustrating."
Once Springstead jumped ahead and used physical play to stay there, Central began to unravel. No player was more of an example than senior midfielder David Vitola. After an outburst, he was pulled from the game and didn't re-enter until midway through the second half.
"I just came into the game with a lot of emotion because we were playing Springstead," Vitola said. "That's the type of player I am."
With less than 12 minutes remaining in regulation, the recently recomposed Vitola took the ball down the near sideline and made a centering pass, and Donny Van Slee drilled a line drive into the net from 10 yards to tie the score.
The Bears were able to fend off Springstead from there in the key district game, a tie that Central needed far more than Springstead.
"It's definitely important," Viramontes said. "We want to end up (as the first seed). We want to take on the bottom team (in the district tournament)."