OTTAWA — For the third time in the last four seasons, the Morris soccer team has won a regional title. The latest came on Saturday after the Redskins captured the Class 2A title in Ottawa, defeating Herscher by a 4-1 final.
"I think it's awesome," Morris second-year coach David Valdivia said. "I never thought that coming in as a new coach that I'd win back-to-back championships."
The Redskins got two goals from Chava Villanueva and one each from goals by Jose Salinas and Nestor Rodriguez in the win against the Tigers. Herscher ends the year 18-5-2.
"The first goal I gave a pass to Luke (Rodriguez) and got it right back. I kicked it as hard as I could. It went flying and I fell on my back. I was kind of hurt on the play and I didn't even know it went in until a teammate came up to me and said 'you scored'," Villanueva said. "The second goal was on a rebound. It came right to me and hit hit it with my right foot and crossed it over to the other side."
A large part of the late season success by the Redskins can be attributed to a new formation that the locals have employed in the last month or so.
"I have my assistant coach Mata to thank for that formation. He came to me and wanted us to try a different formation," Valdivia said. "I was against it at first but then warmed up to the idea. It works. Once I saw it working, it got me hooked. We don't have a name for it so we'll call it Formation Mata."
Formation Mata has proven extremely successful, to the point that Morris is now in play for its first-ever sectional championship.
"This is pretty good. It means that we're doing things right," Villanueva said of winning another championship. "It shows we're making progress and growing. That we're doing things the right way."
When all was said and done, Herscher coach Alan High said that he thought his guys may not have thought Morris would pose such a threat to the Tigers on Saturday.
"I think we came out and took them lightly. It took us a while to get going," High said. "They also did a good job of taking Mitchell Schwarzkopf out of the game. That was key because he is an All-Stater for us. They had a great game plan coming in and they executed it well."
"They're a good team, I knew it was going to be a tough game," Valdivia said of Herscher.
Herscher's lone goal came on a penalty kick from Cody Cadle.
Morris now plays on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Peoria in the sectional semifinals.