Two unanswered goals lead Indian Springs to championship

By MIKE EASTERLING | Special to the Reporter

HUNTSVILLE – It was a rainbow of sorts for Indian Springs. There was maroon and white, the school’s official colors according to the game program at the high school state soccer tournament. There was neon yellow, the hue of the boys team’s uniforms and also red, the color of the equipment bags the players carried.

But it was blue, the color of the plating on the championship trophy, that was foremost on Indian Springs’ collective mind Friday.

Indian Springs, the school with no nickname, rallied from a goal down to start the second half and defeated surprising Susan Moore 2-1 in the Class 1A-3A final at John Hunt Park for the school’s first title since 2014.

“Blue, blue, blue,’’ players and fellow students chanted after Indian Springs won its third championship overall in 10 trips here in coach Rik Tozzi’s 15 seasons.

It’s Tozzi whose idea it was to wear the brightly colored togs. He’s a fan of Manchester City of the Premier League, and that’s one of that English squad’s alternate uniforms.

Indian Springs certainly wore them well this year, compiling a 23-2-6 record. Seven of the wins were of the come-from-behind variety, including the win over the Bulldogs.

“I think that says a lot about our kids’ character,’’ Tozzie said. “Not to take anything away from Susan Moore because that’s a good team and they played well, but I don’t think they saw our best today and it was probably because of them.’’

Susan Moore (20-4-1), which didn’t field a team the past two years, was making its first final four appearance.

Justin Chapman scored off a rebound with 30:58 left in the second half to tie the game at 1-all, and Donald Wilson was good from about 10 yards out to make it 2-1 with 13:29 remaining.

But it was senior forward Sam Simpson who was named tournament Most Valuable Player. He’s the lone holdover from the 2014 championship season.

“I played in the semifinals but not in the final,’’ he said of his freshman year. “I’ve come a long way.’’’

Chapman evened things at 1-all when a shot bounced off the crossbar back toward the junior midfielder, who stuck it in.

Chapman said he was thinking “just don’t hit it over’’ regarding the easy goal. “Make contact and don’t whiff it.’’

The game winner came when Wilson threaded the ball through and over several defenders and goalkeeper Ismael Gonzalez.

“I hit over the defense,’’ Wilson said.

Indian Springs’ Zak Heino saved two of four shots on goal, while Gonzalez saved three of five.

Susan Moore appeared to be in control for much of the first half, and led 1-0 behind Edwin Cervantes’ goal with 3:09 until intermission.

“We weren’t playing well throughout the game and we had to work hard,’’ Simpson said. “But, hard work beats anything.’’

More photos available at www.shelbycountyphotos.com.