For the first time in nearly two months, Springstead's boys failed to score in a game.
That in itself is surprising, then it's doubly so considering the opposition, a 2-10-2 Clermont East Ridge team.
Then again, playing not to win sometimes works. It did for the Knights in a rare 0-0 tie.
"It's called packing nine players in the box," Springstead coach Sal Calabrese said. "I kind of had an idea that's what they were going to do."
Like a football defense putting "nine in the box" in an all-out effort to stop an opponent's rushing attack, East Ridge stacked its players in the back of its zone to stop the Eagles from scoring.
It succeeded, but the trade-off was zero offensive pressure whatsoever.
Calabrese said the Knights crossed midfield twice the entire game and were outshot 23-1. He figured East Ridge knew it likely would face Springstead in the first game of the Class 4A, District 9 tournament (which it will, 6 p.m. Monday at Springstead), and wanted to try the unusual strategy to see how it worked.
"Next time, we have to get the goal early and force them to open up," Calabrese said.
Springstead will get that chance soon enough.
MORE ODD TIES: Central's boys sustained their usual Wednesday loss last week against Leesburg, falling to 0-6 on games that day.
But the Bears found better luck Friday in a 1-1 tie at Hudson.
It was an unusual game from the start, which was 45 minutes late due to officials' tardiness.
"I suppose I could have said "tough luck' and taken us home, but I really wanted to see us play," Central coach Jerry Bon said.
Starting late, however, meant losing starting keeper Joey Cantu for the second half as he had to return home.
But junior varsity keeper Damon Ferreira stepped in and held the Cobras scoreless in the half, allowing Central to forge the deadlock when Austin Grey converted a penalty kick.
"(Ferreira) stepped right up to it. He stopped two or three shots that might have gone in against other guys," Bon said.
_ JOHN SCHWARB