Springfield sophomore Yoro Diallo passes the ball to a teammate during the Wildcats game against Lebanon on Sept. 10 in Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER
Photo: Michael Cooper
Photo: Michael Cooper

Wildcats have goal of extending record-setting season

Playing a postseason game at home will be a new experience for the Wildcats. They hope another follows after the final seconds tick off.

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Springfield (8-7-1) has yet to win a tournament game since North and South merged in 2008. They’ve been outscored 75-1 by eight different teams in that span. But this is a different Wildcats team. And they’re looking for a different outcome.

Springfield hosts Fairmont (2-13-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Springfield High School. The Wildcats secured their first regular-season winning record since the merger by beating the Firebirds 2-1 on Oct. 8.

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“I’m fully expecting the same (tough game) Saturday,” Springfield coach Mike Kohl said. “It’s always difficult to beat a team twice in the same season, let alone in 11 days. That’s something as a team we’ve talked about a lot. We’re focusing on what it’ll take on our part to do that.”

Three losses and a tie left Springfield’s historic season stalled at 4-7-1 in late September. The Wildcats rallied to end the regular season with victories over Greenville (4-1), Wayne (4-2), Trotwood (8-0) and Fairmont to finish with eight wins. The Wildcats won five games last season, but prior to that won between 0-3 games each season from 2008-17.

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The Cats now carry that momentum into the postseason.

Yoro Diallo led the Greater Western Conference in goals scored with 24 and Cam Elliott was third with 13. Dylan Patel and Jack Hayden also netted multiple goals for the Wildcats with three each.

“Yoro is a special player. He’s a big, physical kid and he can just score goals,” Kohl said. “Cam Elliott is the same way. With Yoro coming in I think Cam kind of embraced what the role was going to be, having the opportunity to broaden his game from not just a goal scorer … and added the assist side to it. He’s really stepped up his game.”

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Elliott was second in the GWOC with 10 assists. Diallo had six assists, Isaac Stiles and Sam Nelson each had four and Parker Beck and Hayden three assists.

Dan Klosterman, Lamar Peterson and Stiles led the Wildcats on defense, with Beck recording 82 saves and three shutouts in goal.

“I’ve got a good crew of seniors with Dane, Lamar Peterson and Isaac Stiles,” Kohl said. “They’re a good group of seniors and they’re starting to experience that success.

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“A lot of it had to do with buying in. These guys were hungry for a change. … When they started seeing the results from it, the rest kind of took off on its own.”

A win Saturday night likely sets up a sectional tournament rematch with Carroll, which hosts West Carrollton on Saturday. Carroll, ranked No. 10 in the state, beat Springfield 4-0 last season.

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“That’s our lot in life,” Kohl said of battling the Miami Valley’s outstanding talent level in soccer. “This year we went into it trying to find as tough of a schedule as we could to prepare ourselves for the Beavercreeks, the Centervilles and the Springboros. I think it’s done well for us.”

Wins aren’t the only numbers on the rise. The program has 50 players on three teams. The Wildcats have 11 seniors overall and six are starters on varsity.

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“These guys have been rewarded for hard work,” Kohl said of the winning season and hosting a tournament game. “I think they continue to know if they put the work in they’ll get the most fair result they can.

“(If we win) Saturday night, it would be big. … It would be an outstanding victory for the program, make no mistake.”

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• The Springfield girls soccer team defeated Stebbins 5-4 in OT in Monday’s D-I sectional opener. According to available records, Springfield hadn’t won a girls tourney game since 2005 by North. Springfield (5-11-1) is at top-seeded and defending D-I state champ Beavercreek (16-0-0) on Thursday.

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