It didn’t take long for the rematch to turn into a mismatch.
Class 1A top-ranked Regina bolted to a 4-0 halftime lead and cruised to an 8-0 win over 10th-ranked Mid-Prairie (0-2) in a rematch of last year’s Class 1A state title game on Monday at Regina.
Emilio Tovar scored four goals and Fabian Ouellet-Pinto added two as Regina opened its season the same way it ended last year, with a win over the Golden Hawks.
“The kids are really playing well,” Regina coach Rick Larew said. “They are really focused and I just couldn’t be more ecstatic, it was a great start to the season.”
Unlike last year’s 1A title game that Regina won in a shootout, Monday’s game was decided early.
Tovar’s first goal in the 11th minute started a Regina scoring spree that continued well into the second half.
The junior blasted a shot from 25 yards out that glanced off the hands of Mid-Prairie keeper Nathan Reed for the game’s first goal.
“Coach said at the beginning of the game that we wanted to make ourselves a team that gets ahead right away and comes out the gate ready to go,” Tovar said. “We always focus on the first five minutes of the game and we were ready.”
Seven minutes later Nicolas Ziniel gave Regina a 2-0 lead when he knocked in a Jacob Adam cross.
Ouellet-Pinto got into the act when he settled a high pass from Adam and sneaked a shot into the left corner to give Regina a 3-0 lead 33 minutes in.
“There was a lot of chemistry that we have built up and we were able to pick right back up with that,” Ziniel said. “That helped us start pretty fast at the beginning of the season.”
Tovar capped the first-half scoring when he hammered in a rebound shot with 28 seconds left to put Regina up 4-0.
Reed made a nifty save on the initial attempt, but the ball caromed right to Tovar who hammered it in for his second goal.
“He really came on strong last year and played really well at the end of the season and the state tournament,” Larew said of Tovar. “He’s in great shape this year.”
Regina wasted little time building on its lead in the second half.
Michael Adam headed in a perfectly placed Tovar assist in the 48th minute.
Two minutes later, Tovar added his third goal of the game on a breakaway that gave him the hat trick.
“The kids have been really focused,” Larew said. “Even in pregame they were hitting their shots and you saw them, they were like cannons out here.”
Ouellet-Pinto added a goal in the 54th minute and Tovar capped the scoring with his career-best fourth goal of the game in the 54th minute.
“It was fun,” Ziniel said. “When everyone is playing together like that it’s the most fun soccer to be a part of.”
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.