PHS battles hard, falls in OT at state

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


GARRISON PIERCE (20) of Plymouth and Daniel Rangel of Delavan-Darien battle for the ball in Friday’s state soccer tournament match. The Comets’ Esteban Aranda (7) closes in. – Photo by Doug Pierce GARRISON PIERCE (20) of Plymouth and Daniel Rangel of Delavan-Darien battle for the ball in Friday’s state soccer tournament match. The Comets’ Esteban Aranda (7) closes in. – Photo by Doug Pierce MILWAUKEE – The Plymouth Panthers gave a tremendous effort before falling to No. 1-ranked Delavan-Darien, 2-0, in overtime in Friday’s Division 3 boys state soccer tournament semifinal match at the Uihlein Soccer Park’s Kohler Engines Stadium.

Plymouth’s physical, aggressive defense was outstanding. The Panthers held the high-powered Comet attack scoreless through 90 minutes of regulation play and the first 10-minute overtime period before the defending state cham- pions scored in the second 10-minute overtime session.

The Comets seized a 1-0 lead when senior forward Jason Cano made a terrific shot into the far corner of the net from a tough angle on the left side of the 18-yard penalty area. The goal came 1:29 into the second overtime period.


CONNOR JOSEPH (right) of Plymouth and Moses Solis of Delavan-Darien go after the ball in Friday’s state soccer match. – Photo by Doug Pierce CONNOR JOSEPH (right) of Plymouth and Moses Solis of Delavan-Darien go after the ball in Friday’s state soccer match. – Photo by Doug Pierce Delavan-Darien pretty much iced the win on a goal by senior forward Zeus Huerta at the 5:34 mark which made it 2-0. Huerta received a well-placed cross to the middle from Pablo Guzman-Martinez and kicked the ball into the right side of the net from close range.

The Panthers had three shots in the second overtime, including one near the goalie box by Mason Dale on a header off a free kick by Garrison Pierce.

PHS head coach Rommy Herrera was very pleased with his team’s performance.

“I’m extremely proud [of the PHS team]. This is the most successful team I’ve ever coached. They never gave up. They gave everything they had on every single play,” said Herrera whose team finished 17-4- 2.


THE PLYMOUTH STUDENT section cheers on the Panthers at Friday’s state soccer match versus Delavan-Darien. – Photo by Doug Pierce THE PLYMOUTH STUDENT section cheers on the Panthers at Friday’s state soccer match versus Delavan-Darien. – Photo by Doug Pierce “We played against the No. 1 team and played at their level and many times even better than them. We showed we’re not a No. 4 [seeded] team.”

PHS, which had an 11-game winning streak end, was seeded No. 4 in the D-3 tourney field while the Comets were No. 1. Delavan-Darien was the defending state champion.

The Comets lost to No. 2-seeded Mount Horeb in the title match, 2-1, on Saturday night. The Comets finished 25- 2-3 and Mount Horeb posted a 19-4-1 record.

“I’m proud of all of these guys. We left it all out there tonight,” said PHS senior defender Adam Smith.

“We battled. Delavan- Darien is a great team and very skilled. We gave them a tough ride for 90 minutes,” said Smith.


ERIC PREISSNER (right) of Plymouth and an unidentified Delavan-Darien player hustle after the ball in Friday’s state soccer match. – Photo by Doug Pierce ERIC PREISSNER (right) of Plymouth and an unidentified Delavan-Darien player hustle after the ball in Friday’s state soccer match. – Photo by Doug Pierce “This was our toughest game of the year. We played our hearts out,” said Panther senior midfielder Eric Preissner.

“They [Comets] were outstanding and definitely the best competition we’ve played all year. We played great and they played great. It was a great match.”

The Comets held a 9-3 lead in shots on goal. For overall shots, the Comets led 20-12. PHS had only a few shots inside the 18 because of the Comets’ quick, aggressive defense.

PHS junior goalkeeper Gabe Thull had an impressive match. Thull made seven saves, including an amazing one late in the first overtime when he dove to his left and got a hand on the ball on a shot from about 12 yards out by Andres Garcia.

“Gabe is an amazing goalie – one of the best I’ve had. Today, he had the best game of his life,” said the PHS coach.

Comet goalie Hugo Valadez was credited with three saves.

“We knew they had really good players and we stopped them for 100 minutes,” said Herrera.

“We switched a little bit formation and played more defensive. We added two players to defend Nos. 15 [Cano] and 19 [Huerta]. We knew to be successful we had to stop those guys.”

Huerta and Cano and were the Comets’ top scorers this season with an impressive 50 and 48 goals, respectfully, coming into state.

Herrera said because his team had to play more defensive, that took away from the offense.

“Our midfielders had to give support to the offense and defense, and to do it for 110 minutes, it’s hard to keep that up, and that took a little from our offensive side,” he said.

“Plymouth’s defense is very good. Their keeper is very good,” said Comet head coach Mike Marse.

“They [Panthers] don’t give up. There were times that we were attacking and attacking but they kept coming back, so that impressed me.

“The thing that impressed me about this [Comet] team is that they never give up. I think Cano and Huerta wear people out. I told them in overtime that eventually they’re going to get one through and they did,” said Marse.


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