The conditions that were in place when an Excelsior senior scored his 100th goal as a high school soccer player might seem like they were lifted from a Hollywood movie script.
Diego Zapata joined the 100-goal club by scoring in the sixth minute of overtime to give Excelsior Springs a 1-0 Missouri River Valley Conference win over Warrensburg Tuesday night. And because it was the regular-season finale for both teams and this is Zapata’s senior year, he achieved the milestone in his last regular-season home game.
“It means a lot,” Zapata said.
One reason it was meaningful to Zapata was because it was part of his most productive high school season in terms of scoring, he said. It was his 37th goal this season. He scored his 36th Monday during Excelsior Springs’ 2-1 overtime road loss to Smithville.
“To do it … (in) my last (home) game is even better,” he said. “(Scoring it) in overtime, it was pretty cool.”
Zapata was among six Excelsior Springs seniors who played their final regular-season home game Tuesday. A seventh senior, Lake Yelton, was sidelined with an injury.
The other seniors were Jonathan Cline, Skyler Kester, Jaxon Pitts, Zayden Whitmore and goalkeeper Michael Linnenburger, who got the shutout.
“It’s exciting to get a shutout,” Linnenburger said after a Senior Night ceremony held between the varsity and junior varsity games. “We haven’t had one in a little bit – (something) like four games – so this one meant a lot since it’s Senior Night.”
It was Excelsior Springs’ first shutout win since defeating St. Joseph Benton 2-0 Oct. 10 at Excelsior Springs. The club then allowed at least one goal in six straight games before blanking Warrensburg.
It also was Excelsior Springs’ second win over Warrensburg in two weeks. Excelsior Springs cruised to a 6-1 win Oct. 15 at Warrensburg.
Warrensburg coach Bryan Olivas attributed the closer margin in the rematch to tweaking the team’s defense between the two games.
“With them playing the formation that they played, we tried to readjust, so we had one more in the back. … And so, that’s why, probably, you didn’t see a lot of big gaps in the back, except … for the last shot. … It was an amazing goal,” Olivas said.
Warrensburg, which finished the regular season 5-17-1 overall and 2-9 in the conference, used Tuesday to begin game-planning for the postseason. Warrensburg’s postseason begins Nov. 5 against Helias Catholic of Jefferson City at Helias in the Class 3 District 9 Tournament.
“I think they play a similar style to what Excelsior does,” Olivas said. “So the adjustments … (tonight were) based on both the last game of the regular season and the first game of districts.”
The Excelsior Springs seniors and their teammates will look to keep their season going when they face William Chrisman in Class 3 District 15 play at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 4 at Chrisman. The winner will face the Van Horn-Winnetonka winner in the district title game at 6 p.m. Nov. 6 at Chrisman.
Excelsior Springs (14-6 overall, 8-3 conference) faced Chrisman Sept. 5 in the Winnetonka Tournament, winning 3-2. The club looks forward to facing the Bears again, coach Zac Ganzer said.
“It’ll be good,” Ganzer said. “It’s a good measuring stick for us. … We played them really early on. They’ve gotten better. They play in a good conference. … We feel like … we’ve done some good things throughout the year. We’re not playing our best soccer right now, but we (have) got a week to figure that out.”