Another district soccer championship for Storm, Lady Longhorns
Miguel Hernandez scored a first-half goal from a set piece and Celebration’s defense dominated the entire game as the Storm beat Harmony, 2-0, to win the Class 7A, District 9 Football Championship Wednesday night at Harmony.
Meanwhile, the Lady Longhorns repaid the favor and exacted revenge on Celebration from the OBC Championship Game, with a 6-0 victory in the 7A-9 Women’s Championship at Celebration.
The win most likely secured the Region 3 tournament seed for the Celebration Boys, meaning the Storm could stay at home until the state semifinals.
“I’m really proud of this team and they’ve definitely earned the right to play at home in the regional game,” Celebration assistant coach/athletic director Chad Boudreaux said of his team that went to 12-2-1 this season. “We played the toughest regular season schedule in my time here and it set us up for this.”
The celebration threatened several times in the first half, but the game remained level until the 23rd minute. Edgar Marquez put a corner kick to the forehead of an unmarked, charging Hernandez – who headed the ball past Harmony goalkeeper Miguel Zapata for a 1-0 lead.
After a slow start to the second half, Celebration would start to turn up the heat from the 51st minute. The Storm would get several shots on goal midway through the period, but several point-blank shots from the front of the net sailed high and Zapata would then stop a Jose D’lima outburst from the right side to keep the game 1-0.
It would stay that way until the 71st minute, when Anyelo Castelano found a rebound to his left foot halfway through but still managed to nudge the ball past Zapata for a 2-0 lead. A third Storm goal two minutes later was called off on an offside call.
“Scoring a goal in soccer is a really hard thing to do – there’s a reason there are a lot of 1-0 and 2-0 games,” Boudreaux said. “But having said that, we had a lot of chances to put the game aside earlier than we did. We might need to spend a little more time on shooting practice. But also give credit to Harmony. Coach Ballard (Brett) is doing a great job with them. They are always well trained and play extremely hard.
Even without Castelano’s insurance goal, the Storm never really faced solid defensive challenges. Storm goaltender Christopher Hernandez recorded his 10th shutout of the season but didn’t have much to do as Celebration’s defense limited Harmony to just two total shots that weren’t on the front . During the season, Celebration allowed just eight total goals in 15 games.
“I said it after the Orange Belt Conference game and it bears repeating,” Boudreaux added. “Coach (Lauren) Osborn has done a fantastic job with our defence. Our youth and inexperience there was a huge concern for us heading into the season and that has undoubtedly become our strength.
As district champions, Celebration is guaranteed a home game in the regional quarterfinals on Wednesday, February 8. The regional semi-finals will take place on February 11 and the regional finals on February 15.
“The girls played some really good football (Wednesday),” HHS coach Scott Marlega said. “It’s amazing how much difference mentality makes. They were focused and eager to get that trophy and get back to Celebration.
The Lady Longhorns victory put them 12-3-3 and avenged a 2-1 loss to Celebration (14-3-0) in the Orange Belt Conference Championship Game on Dec. 8.
As district champions, the Longhorns will host a regional quarterfinal game on Tuesday. Celebration, which entered the District Finals ranked seventh in the region, still has a chance to earn a regional spot overall, as the four district champions and the top four ranked non-district champions in each region qualify. .
In the Men’s Championship Game 5A, District 6, No. 2 seed Gateway (12-3-1) lost a 2-1 decision to No. 1 seed Horizon. Entering the District Tournament at 15th in the 5A class, the Panthers will most likely receive a general offer for the 5A-2 region playoffs.