In an action packed, hard fought match against the Helias Catholic High School Crusaders in state quarterfinal play on Saturday at the Carver Athletic Complex on home turf, the Neosho Wildcat soccer triumphed. With a 4-2 final score against the Crusaders, the Wildcats advance to state semi-final play - the Final Four - on Friday - a history-making first for the NHS Soccer team.
The stands were packed with fans as the two teams battled for victory in the MSHSAA Class 3 soccer tournament. Neosho fans waved school flags, rang cowbells and accompanied the play with a drum throughout the match, cheering their team to victory.
At half time, Helias led with a 2-1 score but in the second half, the Wildcats advanced.
NHS Junior defender/forward Carlos Estrada scored three of the four goals in the tense match, performing a hat trick. He scored once in the first half and twice in the second, cinching the win for the Wildcats.
The score stood at 2-1 in Crusader favor but senior forward Yahir Ruiz made a goal and brought the score to 3-2 in Neosho's favor.
Estrada did the rest and scored his final goal with 1:30 remaining on the clock. Estrada also made the goal that tied up the score.
Etian Pupo had three assists for the Wildcats, while junior goalkeeper Kayden Wood made eight saves.
Neosho's victory was a history maker, marking the first time the soccer team won a state quarterfinal.
According to Neosho's head soccer coach James Carter, someone informed him that the only other boys' sports program that has made the final four is wrestling. The girls' cross country team won state titles in 1983 and 1984. Wildcat Baseball made it to the Final Four in 1981.
Neosho (18-7) will face the Platte County Pirates (25-1) at 1 p.m. Friday, November 22. in the state semifinals at World Wide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton.
“We’re going to the Final Four and it’s a great feeling,” Neosho coach James Carter said