As the Barstow Knights prepared for their first trip to the Missouri Class 1 boys soccer state final four in 23 seasons, coach Scott Huppe reflected on the up-and-down season that got them there.
The Knights had opened the season 3-7 before winning nine of their next 11 matches. That led Huppe to a conclusion.
“There is never any panic with this team,” he said. “We know we can come back at any time.”
That came to fruition at a valuable time.
After coming from behind to defeat Crossroads College Prep in penalty kicks in the semifinals, Barstow held on for a 2-1 victory against Canton to win the Missouri Class 1 state championship.
Matt Bruce and Pedro DeCastro scored in the championship victory.
DeCastro also supplied the team’s lone goal in the semifinals. He finished the season with 19 goals to lead the Knights. Sophomore Connor Williams also reached double digits in scoring this season.
Barstow, 14-9, saw an increase in scoring productivity as the season progressed. It averaged 3.1 goals per game over the final seven matches.
Yet it was the defense that came up especially large in the final four. Barstow goalkeeper Adam Maiale stoned a penalty kick to send the Knights to the final.
“We knew we had a lot of skill this year, and the result really shows it,” Maiale said. “... This means a whole lot to us.”