It hasn’t been the greatest season for the Truman boys soccer team as it came into Monday’s Class 4 District 14 semifinal.
The Patriots entered with a 6-15 record and had lost eight of their last nine games in the regular season. Truman might have saved its best game for the playoffs as it rolled to a 4-0 victory over Raytown at home.
“It definitely was our best win of the year,” said Truman assistant coach Patrick Dent, filling in for head coach Manny Tovar, who was absent because of paternity leave. “We played as a team. Sometimes we play as individuals. Today when I gave the game plan, I told them to play as a team. That’s exactly what they did. They made plays they hadn’t all year.”
Added senior midfielder Jose Calderon: “Every played today like it was their last game.”
Truman (7-15) will host seven-time state champion Rockhurst (15-6), an 8-0 winner over Fort Osage (3-18), in the district finals at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“This year we’re coming for them,” Calderon said of the Hawklets, who have appeared in seven straight state final fours. “We’re hungry. Every other year they beat us. This year, we change that.”
It didn’t appear that the Patriots overlooked the Blue Jays as they had several opportunities to score in the first half. They had several breakaway one-on-one opportunities against a Raytown defender or goalkeeper Cristian Baquedano. Each time, the Blue Jays made solid defensive plays to keep Truman out of the goal.
Calderon finally got Truman going early in the second half. He collected a deflection off Baquedano and lobbed a shot over him and a defender that bounced once and into the goal.
“It felt good because we kept telling each other to keep shooting in the first half,” Calderon said. “One will eventually go in.”
That goal jump-started the Patriots’ offense. Calderon made it 2-0 in the 49th minute when he received a cross from junior forward Esteban Herrera and snuck a shot inside the far post.
“I think I played great and I hope I can keep it up,” said Herrera, who had two assists.
Added Dent: “Estaban is the ultimate team player. He might not have scored tonight, but he was the best player on the field. He put us in position to score every time he had the ball. It takes some reservation to not take it yourself and lay it off to a teammate.”
Truman controlled possession for most of the game and continued to do so late in the second half. Senior midfielder Isaac Botello knocked in a picture-perfect shot inside the upper right corner of the goal to seal the win.
Even though Botello made perhaps the most impressive shot, the Patriots seemed the most excited about a goal from junior DeAnjalo Holman, who mostly plays on the junior varsity team. He received a centering pass from Herrera and crossed one inside the left post for the final tally.
“He’s been wanting a goal so bad,” Calderon said of Holman. “I am really happy for him.”