Rider Advances To Title Game

It took 76 minutes for the Rider Raiders to get a ball into the back of the net in the Class 4A State Semifinals.

Senior defender Jonathan Munoz booted a ball from just in front of Rider's own goal. The ball sailed with the wind, bouncing off the head of a defender and falling right at the feet of scoring sensation Christian Okeke. The junior put as much leg behind his shot.

"When you go for it 100 percent, good things happen," head coach Josh Hill said.

It was enough, as the ball deflected off of the hands goalkeeper Luis Perez, hit Okeke on the rebound, then slipped in for the game-winning goal, Okeke's 37th of the season.

"I'm so happy we got past this game," Okeke said.

With the 1-0 win over Mount Pleasant, Rider advances to the state championship match.

For Munoz, it's the third straight match that he's been involved with the lone, game-winning score.

"We're going to remember this for the rest of our lives," he said.

Munoz is one of 13 senior Raiders, kids who are at the end of a four-year journey.

"These seniors have put so much into this team since they've been here," Hill said. "This has been a special season."

Drake Szczepinski, another Rider senior, came up clutch in the first half. With Rider against the wind, the goalkeeper deflected a couple strong Tiger shots.

The offense took over in the second half, with several good scoring chances, including three straight corner kicks 10 minutes into the half.

Okeke had a couple good opportunities before his late goal.

Rider will play San Antonio Alamo Heights for the state title on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. The Mules topped Friendswood 1-0 and are 29-2-1 overall.

"One more game as a senior group is all we get," senior forward Cal Johnson said. "We're not going to waste this opportunity."