HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AHSAA) – The Hoover Bucs of Coach Kris Keplinger (19-4-3) were pushed to the limit in Saturday’s Class 7A Boys’ Soccer Championship match but prevailed to nip Enterprise 3-2.
The Bucs won their first state soccer title since 2003 with some clutch play by junior Richard Ujueta. He had both Hoover goals in regulation, then was one of five Bucs to nail their kicks to capture the title with a 5-3 edge in the shootout. Hoover goalkeeper Max Rudolph stopped the Wildcats (14-6-4) on their fourth shootout kick attempt to seal the win.
Hoover’s lineup of Sam Bauder, Ujueta, Nicholas Ibanez, Igor Rudolph and Finn Dowdey all drilled their shots past the Wildcats’ keeper Logan Smith, even though he did come close to blocking two. Coach Bruce Ladner sent Tyler Howard, Rasheed Bolaji, Edgar Munoz and Anthony Venezia to the line in the shootout with the first three nailing their kicks.
Rudolphstopped the last shot, however, to end the match. Ujeuta, named the Class 7A state championship boys’ MVP, tied the contest in the first half on a goal assisted by Ibanez at 34:34. Enterprise’s Sebastian Guerrero opened the scoring at 21:32 when slipped his kick into the goal. The shot was set up by Bolaji’s assist. Ujueta gave Hoover the lead at 72-23 in the second period with his second goal.Caleb Cusineau was credited with the assist.
The Wildcats clawed back, however, sending the match into overtime when Andre Mazariegos scored with only 25 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the match and send it into overtime at 2-2. Neither team scored in either overtime period to set up the final shootout.