Not only did the Sturgis boys soccer team win a regional championship for the first time in program history Thursday, the Trojans thoroughly dominated Milan on a chilly evening in Jackson.
Sturgis took a 1-0 halftime lead and turned it into a 4-0 victory that sends head coach Luis Olivares’ squad to the Division 2 state semifinals against Spring Lake next Wednesday in Plainwell.
Two-thirds of the way through the first half, Gabriel Nieves fired from the right side and bounced a goal past Big Reds keeper Cameron Krol. It was the only time the Trojans (16-6-1), which were camped out on their opponent’s side of the field for the majority of the first frame, capitalized. Sturgis outshot Milan 7-1 through the first 40 minutes.
Sturgis came out firing again in the second half and narrowly missed adding to the lead several times before Enrique Lopez’s free kick bounced off Krol to the foot of Eric Patino and into the net for a 2-0 advantage in the 57th minute. Jonathan Gonzalez piled on for a third scoring strike with eight minutes remaining in the contest. Carlos Maldonado added the icing to the Trojans’ regional victory with an unassisted goal just over five minutes later.
Lopez finished with two assists and Maldonado provided the pass on the game’s first goal. The Trojans outshot Milan 14-2 for the game, with Isaac Montoya stopping both shots for the victors.
“I am very proud of my team,” Olivares said. “They learned that if they want to win they must play as a unit. We are looking forward to our next game. I would like to thank the fans that came out to support the team.”