Even after playing 40 dominating minutes of soccer Tuesday night, Van Horn midfielder Angel DeAvila felt that he and his Falcon teammates needed some inspiration.
Coach Jesus Rodriguez apparently didn’t disappoint.
“The first half was kind of sloppy, but then we got the inspirational speech from coach at halftime,” DeAvila said. “It just motivated us to do better and gave us confidence.”
Rodriguez didn’t go for the fire and brimstone because he really didn’t need to – not with his team already up two goals. But it was still enough to spark Van Horn to play another solid half and complete a 5-0 victory over Winnetonka in a Class 3 District 15 semifinal at Van Horn.
Van Horn (20-2) advanced to face Grain Valley 6:30 p.m. Thursday for the district championship. Grain Valley advanced by beating Kansas City East 1-0 in the other semifinal.
Van Horn never appeared in doubt of reaching the final, not after taking a 2-0 lead before halftime. And while he hardly tore into his team, Rodriguez still had a message to get across.
“I thought we had a tremendous first half but we didn’t put them away,” Rodriguez said. “I told them in the second half to go out and play the way you know how to play and the goals are going to come in.”
Van Horn’s goals, as they have all season, came from a variety of sources. DeAvila scored two goals while three other Falcons – Julio Rios, Juan Rangel and Edison Rios – accounted for one each.
“We have five players with over 10 goals,” Rodriguez said. “So at any moment any of the guys can spark it up and score. We have a lot of guys who can put the ball in the net and if you give them any space they can punish you like that.”
Van Horn punished Winnetonka (2-16) with 15 shots but didn’t find the net until Julio Rios buried a shot into the upper right corner of the net in the 27th minute. Rangel knocked in a cross from Raynaiso Jean-Pierre eight minutes before halftime to make it 2-0.
Edison Rios scored his team-leading 33rd goal five minutes into the second half. DeAvila turned and buried a hard shot to make it 4-0 and completed the scoring with a breakaway shot in the final two minutes.
That proved more than enough to get Van Horn another shot at a district title. The Falcons reached the final last year with a 25-0 record but saw its season end with a loss to KC East.
That should be inspiration enough for Thursday night.
“We have a great offense and we have good team in general,” said DeAvila, who has 22 goals. “We’ve been working really hard all season trying to get past districts and try to reach our goal of achieving state.”
GRAIN VALLEY 1, KC EAST 0: Grain Valley (8-8-2) benefited from solid defense and a mistake by East’s goalkeeper to advance.
Grain Valley got its goal in the second half after the Eagles received a free kick when East’s goalie came out of the 18-yard box holding the ball. Jack Knust took the kick from just outside the box and placed it inside the right post.
Grain Valley goalie Bryant Madden made the goal stand with eight saves, five in the second half alone as East’s speedy forwards peppered the goal.
“They’re more of an attacking team and we’re more of a defensive team,” Grain Valley coach Tyler Nichol said. “Bryant stepped up big.”