Lamar boys soccer coach Cesar Diaz got into the habit of tweeting the phrase, “We move!” after every win this season.
He did so again Monday as the Raiders defeated Washington School 7-1 in the opening round of the MAIS Division II playoffs at Lamar, setting up a Thursday evening showdown with Pillow Academy in the semifinal round.
“It began as a motto for the team, and now we’re moving on to the second round,” senior Jackson Morgan said.
The goals didn’t come easy at first. Monday’s game took place a week later than it was originally scheduled, as inclement weather throughout last week forced the MAIS to delay its boys soccer postseason because of traveling hazards. While the Raiders were able to get some work in over the weekend, it still took time for them to warm up, as they only had a 2-0 lead at halftime courtesy of goals by Tripp Morrow and Miller Hodge.
“It was hard to get started, but by the middle of the first half we got a rhythm going and started to put some goals in,” Hodge said.
Hodge scored his second goal in the 47th minute to give Lamar a 3-0 advantage, and Morrow added a goal in the 64th minute to put Lamar up by four. Two minutes later, Zach Purdy found the back of the net, and Ben Bryan scored in the 72nd minute off an assist from Hodge to make it 6-0 Raiders.
Washington finally got on the scoreboard in the 78th minute, but Hodge scored his third goal in the 79th minute to make it 7-1.
“We didn’t look pretty hot in the first half, but once we got our first goal we instantly changed our mindset,” Diaz said. “We got the goals that we needed, and we moved.”
A year ago, Washington was the team that eliminated Lamar in the second round, denying the Raiders a state championship game berth, and Diaz admitted that was a big motivating factor entering Monday’s game.
“They had it in the back of their minds,” Diaz said. “I kept reminding them we were going to play the same team that beat us last year, so to get payback, it feels good.”
Morgan said the weekend practices were used not only to get back into playing shape but to prepare them for whatever Washington threw at them.
“We knew our opponent,” Morgan said. “We watched film, and we were ready for them.”
The Raiders will host Pillow Academy at 5:30 p.m. Thursday with a state title game berth on the line after Pillow beat Starkville Academy 1-0 in the first round. The Raiders haven’t played Pillow yet this season.
“They put their games online, so we’ll watch film and see what they do,” Diaz said.