COLORADO SPRINGS — Alexander Toderica stood on the sidelines when the opening whistle sounded. Holy Family’s leading scorer wasn’t allowed to play after receiving a red card in the Tigers’ previous victory.
That didn’t mean Toderica couldn’t look the part. He watched the game, wearing his cleats as if he might get a chance to put one in.
Turns out No. 8 Holy Family didn’t need his services. Nicholas Rhoeden’s 34th-minute goal put the Tigers into the 3A state semifinals, as Holy Family shocked No. 1 Colorado Springs Christian School at Four Diamonds Sports Complex in Colorado Springs on Thursday.
“Oh, man, I just wanted to be out there,” Toderica said. “I was doing whatever I could on the side to feel like part of the game.”
The Tigers (15-2-1) were outshot and out-possessed, but they made Rhoeden’s goal stand up. Preston Arguello dribbled outside before releasing a perfect pass. Rhoeden ran past the Lions defense and onto the ball, putting it past goalie Harrison Baker for the team’s only shot on goal.
“We were just trying to find a way to sneak one in and work our way up from there,” Rhoeden said.
Knowing his team would be missing Toderica and his 37 goals and that Arguello was playing on an injured knee, Holy Family coach Jim Schuster wasn’t sure where the scoring was going to come from.
“Really our top two goal scorers and our playmakers were out (and playing injured) today,” Schuster said.
But Schuster might be more impressed with another shutout from his back line. The defense has posted back-to-back shutouts over No. 9 Fountain Valley and No. 1 CSCS (14-4-0).
“The last couple of weeks the defense for sure has stepped up,” Schuster said. “We’ve shut out some really good teams. We’re a much different and better team than we were at the beginning of the season, and that’s primarily because the defense is starting to gel.”
The shutout over the top-ranked team in the classification despite their best player on the bench has the Tigers believing heading into Saturday’s semifinals against No. 5 Faith Christian (3-1 winners over No. 4 St. Mary’s on Thursday).
“I knew my team could do everything I could do,” Toderica said. “They go to practice every day, they play harder than me … If I’m there, even if I’m not, we can still find a way to win.”
No. 8 Holy Family 1,
No. 1 Colorado Springs Christian School 0
Holy Family (15-2-1) 1 0 — 1
CSCS (14-4-0) 0 0 — 0
Goals (assists) — Holy Family: Rhoeden (Arguello), 34th minute.
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Holy Family: Schneider (80:00-0-7). CSCS: Baker (80:00-1-0).