Smithfield-Selma’s visit to the 3A boys soccer playoffs was short and certainly not sweet.
Perennial powerhouse Jacksonville White Oak made sure of that, scoring four goals in the first 19 minutes of their first round match with the visiting Spartans, en route to an 8-1 victory.
The Spartans never got an opportunity to get established, as the Vikings took their first step toward adding a sixth state title to their trophy case. White Oak displayed speed, crisp passing and relentless pressure throughout the first 19 minutes of the match, seemingly shooting whenever they felt like it, and scoring whenever they felt like it as well.
The Spartans, seeded 21st in the 32-team field and finishing their season with an 8-10 mark, tried whatever they could to match the speed and skill of the Vikings.
But Smithfield-Selma was rewarded only once, when Alfredo Martinez drove a corner kick from Johnny Ventura past Vikings goal keeper Rene Perez with nine minutes left in the first half, trimming the Vikings margin to 4-1.
The Spartans managed only five shots on goal against the 12th-seeded Vikings (12-5-4).
“It was a good season for us,” said Spartans coach Raul Mentivar. “Today we played good. We played the best we could against a very very good team.”
Mentivar saluted the efforts of the squad despite falling behind 2-0 in the first 12 minutes on goals by Gabe Krueger and Austin Billot, respectively.
Krueger took a cross from Billott with nearly nine minutes gone in the first half, and blasted a shot by Spartans keeper Christian Torres for the first goal of the match. Krueger returned the favor four minutes later, sending a cross midway through the box to Billot, who left-footed a shot into the goal.
But the toughest goal of the night came four minutes later, when Torres, attempting to clear the ball out of the Spartans’ defensive third, boomed the ball off the back of one of Smithfield-Selma’s defensive backs. The ball rocket back toward the Spartans goal, and Krueger tapped it gently by the left post l for a 3-0 White Oak advantage.
“It was no one’s fault on that goal,”Mentivar said. “You never expect your teammate to be right where you are kicking it. It was just bad luck.”
The Vikings increased their lead to 4-0 when Grey Goodson sent a through ball to Mario Fields, who in turn fed a cross to the top of the box, where Isaiah Sanders blasted a shot home.
Billot added his second assist of the night to a streaking Kenya weimer, who one-touched the ball into the next with six minutes left for a 5-1 halftime lead.
THe Vikings, who outshot the Spartans 22-5, added a pair of second half goals from Kevin Gonzalez and another from Billot.
“The team played very hard this year,” Mentivar said of the Spartans, saluting seniors Christian Reyes, Jose Truillo, Daniel Avila and Mario Canales. “We are losing some good people, but we have a lot of players joining us, including several who played well on our jayvee team. Next year will be a much better year for us.”