The St. Pius X High School soccer team is headed to the TAPPS Division I State Championship for the first time in school history.
The Panthers (13-13) face Central Catholic (14-1-1) at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 8 at Waco I.S.D.
A golden goal from junior Nic Medina with only minutes remaining in extra time of the Panthers' semifinal game advanced SPX to the state finals.
When asked what it feels like to be playing for the state championship, third-year head coach Nick Merricks '09 said it feels like a dream come true.
"I'm not sure it has hit me yet," Merricks said. "This has been a dream since I was a player here at St. Pius X and to have an opportunity like this is amazing."
Not bad for a team that wasn't ranked all season and enters the state finals with a record of 13-13.
How did they get here? In the bi-district round, the Panthers defeated the No. 2 seed out of San Antonio, St. Joseph 3-2. SPX followed with a victory over crosstown rival St. Thomas 2-1 in the regional round. The Panthers defeated Antonian 2-1 in the semifinals. Freshman Abraham Lopez found the back of the net in the first half to get SPX out to a lead before Antonian scored the equalizer and eventually sent the game into overtime.
"The team has an unbending trust in each other," Merricks continued. "They believe in the game plan and play until the clock runs out. The team is focused and ready, know their roles and assignments, and have continued to execute."
The last St. Pius X team to play for a state title in any sport was Panther baseball in 2013. The last time SPX won a state championship was in 2012 by Panther baseball.