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WATERMAN — Second-year Mendota soccer coach Chawn Huffaker saw his teachings play out on the field Tuesday.
He saw the No. 1-seeded Trojans play their style, dictate the pace and play as a team as they routed No. 4-seeded Indian Creek 8-1 in a Class 1A Indian Creek Regional semifinal.
“They made the choice,” Huffaker said about how he got the team to follow his preaching. “They came prepared to play. They wanted to get back to a regional championship. They want to win that regional championship. They want to get to the sectional and play on our home field. They want to go as far as any team at Mendota has ever gone before. They want to make history, and they believe in themselves.”
The Trojans (8-11-2) advance to their third consecutive regional final at 4 p.m. Friday. Mendota will face the winner of today’s semifinal between No. 2 Paw Paw and No. 3 Earlville-Leland.
“We hope to win,” Mendota’s Brock Sutton said. “We’ve been there the past two years — just so close. It’d be amazing (to win the regional).”
Sutton helped spark Mendota’s rout Tuesday by scoring two goals in the first 11 minutes.
He scored his first goal on an assist from Irving Avila with 35:21 left in the first half, and 6:04 later, he notched his second goal on an assist from Daniel Hernandez.
“It helps to jump on a team early, not only with one goal but two because the other team really starts pressing and we can start inflicting what we want to do,” Huffaker said.
Indian Creek cut it to a one-goal deficit with 19:53 left in the first half, but the Trojans responded with three more goals — from Davy Arteaga, Omar Bugarin and Tony Escatel — in the first half to take a 5-1 lead at intermission.
The Trojans tacked on three more goals in the second half.
Sutton scored on an assist from Tyler Doughty with 33:16 left in the game for his first hat trick of the season.
Daniel Hernandez and Nick Phalen each scored as Mendota reached the seven-goal mercy rule with 1:17 remaining.
“We played well as a team,” Sutton said. “We played our style of soccer. We came out and dictated the pace of the game.
“We spread the ball around. We wanted to pass it around and get everyone involved.”
While the MHS offense was rolling, the Trojan defense was strong as well as the Timberwolves managed just four shots on goal.
“Our defense has been rock solid all year,” Huffaker said. “We had some injuries today. Ivan (Pantino) is out not feeling well and Rafael Hernandez is at home sick. We pieced together our whole roster. Some people started today who don’t normally start. It’s why we build depth throughout the course of the season — when one piece is missing and another comes in, nothing lacks.”
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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