HOPSPTS-10-13-21 UHA BSOC-PHOTO1

University Heights Academy’s Preston Thomas embraces Ethan Hale (6) after the two connected on the game-winning goal of the Blazers’ 4-3 win over Webster County in the Second Region Tournament.

Junior finds net 4 times in win over Webster County

Webster County looked poised to walk into the Stadium of Champions on Tuesday night and walk out with an upset.

University Heights Academy’s Preston Thomas thought otherwise.

The Blazer junior tallied four goals, including the game-winner in extra time to help UHA stun Webster County, 4-3, and advance in the Second Region Tournament.

“They were really, really patient with the ball,” Blazers’ head coach Frankie Thomas said of the Trojans. “It was a pleasure playing them. They played way better than the first time we played them.”

Webster jumped up 2-0 on the Blazers early in the second half. The UHA team at the beginning of the year would have folded right when the second goal went in.

“They just kept playing and encouraging each other,” Thomas said. “They know what we’ve done in the past this season. When we got it back to 2-1 I knew we were going to fight back.”

30 seconds after Evan DeLamar put the Trojans up 2-0, Thomas tallied his first score of the night.

Thomas evened things up at the midway point of the second half but it was Webster this time that responded as David Velasco gave his team a 3-2 lead with just 15 minutes to play.

With their backs against the wall and needing a goal to tie, Connor Dill crossed it into Thomas once more to force extra time with five minutes left in the game.

In the first half of extra time, in similar fashion to two of his three goals on the night, Thomas placed his foot in the right place, netting his fourth of the night and the game-winner, sending the Blazers onto the Second Region semifinals against Caldwell County.

Frankie, who is also, Preston’s father, said it makes it even more special knowing it was his own that stepped up when it mattered most.

“It’s a different kind of feeling especially when it’s your kid,” Frankie said. “He’s played behind some great player and playing behind a great on now in Connor Dill. He and Ethan are getting better and they’re all clicking right now.”

The celebration for the youngest of the father-son combo was one he’ll never forget.

“It was real fun,” Preston said. “We just have to come back and do it again (tonight).”

Thomas said he’ll need his team to play cleaner soccer in the semifinals against Caldwell County.

“The game got away from us really quick,” Frankie said. “We just need to clean some things up.”

UHA faces the Tigers today at 6 p.m. at the Stadium of Champions.

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