Rockies fall to dominant Tigers at Warsaw final

WARSAW — Plymouth and Warsaw may share a conference affiliation, but the defending state runner-up Tigers appeared to be in a league all their own in Saturday’s Warsaw Sectional championship game with the Rockies.
Tito Cuellar finished with a Texas hat trick of four goals — including two within the game’s first 11 and a half minutes — to power the home team, and Plymouth suffered a 7-0 shutout at the hands of the Tigers, who solidified their sixth straight sectional title with Saturday’s win.
“Tito was where he needed to be to put the balls away — and with panache and flair. It was fun to watch,” said Warsaw head coach Scott Bauer.
Cuellar put the Tigers on the board early in the sixth minute with his low drive into the far corner of the Plymouth net on a 1 v 1 situation inside the box, and he notched another score from in close on a Matt Williams assist midway through the 12th minute to put the Rockies down by two.
Miguel Rivera’s penalty kick in the 33rd minute staked Warsaw to a 3-0 halftime cushion, Cuellar completed his hat trick on a Rivera cross in the 42nd minute, and he tacked on his final score on a slick back kick off of Zach Lewis’ pass in the 48th minute to put the game pretty much out of reach of the Rockies at 5-nil.
“We thought that we were going to mark up a little bit better in the back, but obviously we let Tito get four goals,” said Plymouth coach Josh Martin. “He made some really good slashing runs around the box, and we got caught up ball-watching. You let some really technically sound players like that get free in the box, and you’re going to have a day like this. The intensity around our goal wasn’t really what we were looking for today.”
The Rockies were simply outpossessed Saturday as they finished with just three shots on goal — all in the second half — compared to 12 by Warsaw, of which the Tigers were able to find a finishing touch on more than half. Plymouth didn’t get its first shot on goal until Cesar Aguilar’s drive off the left side of the Warsaw box more than 48 minutes into the game.
Sam Stone finished with four saves in goal and Trevor Neidlinger made a big save on an empty net situation with the Rockies already trailing 2-0 in the 27th minute, but Plymouth couldn’t mount an effective counter in the face of Warsaw’s relentless pressure.
After Cuellar finished off his fourth goal, Brandon Reinholt pushed the Tigers’ lead out to 6-0 on a solo run in the 56th minute, and, with the home crowd calling for one more goal, Pedro Monsivais got in on the score-fest with a rebound goal off a Stone deflection with only five seconds on the game clock.
It was a much less competitive showing by the Rockies than their 3-0 loss to Warsaw back in August. It hardly looked like the same Plymouth team that had run through NLC competitors Wawasee and NorthWood to get to the championship game. For that matter, It didn’t look much like the Warsaw team that had fallen behind to CMA 3-0 at halftime of their semifinal Thursday.
“I think the first five or 10 minutes we were alright and then they punched those first couple goals in,” said Martin. “You play behind against a team like this, and you could kind of see our guys had that early look of desperation where we weren’t trying to pass out of the pressure, we weren’t trying to push up the field. We were kind of in a shell hanging back a little bit too much, and you give a team like Warsaw space like that and they’re going to make you pay for it. And they did. Seven times.”
Warsaw moves to 12-2-5 on the season and advances to the Mishawaka Regional Thursday night at Baker Park.
Plymouth closes out the year at 6-11-2 after a solid run to the championship game in the Rockies’ bid for just their second-ever sectional title. The team must say goodbye to a deep cast of 10 seniors in Nolan Wright, Kyle Emenaker, Junior Sanchez, Gongalo Figueroa, Blake Milliser, Jace Allen, Kyle Barry, Zach Stone and Zach Lee as well as foreign exchange student Ronaldo Garcia.
“I feel bad for those guys. Some of them didn’t get to play today, but that group of 10 seniors they were a core group of our team this year,” Martin said. “They really kind of picked it up towards the end of the season. You can’t compare Warsaw to Wawasee or NorthWood, but I wish we would have brought a little more intensity like we did against those guys the first two games.”
At Warsaw Sectional final
First half
Tito Cuellar, 6th minute
Cuellar (Matt Williams), 12th minute
Miguel Rivera (PK), 33rd minute
Second half
Cuellar (Rivera), 42nd minute
Cuellar (Zach Lewis), 48th minute
Brandon Reinholt, 56th minute
Pedro Monsivais, 80th minute
Shots on goal: Plymouth 3, Warsaw 12, Goalie saves: Plymouth 4 (Sam Stone), Warsaw 3 (Peyton Long 2, Tomas Rivera 1); Corners: Plymouth 3, Warsaw 3.
Records: Warsaw 12-2-5, Plymouth 6-11-2 (final)