The pressure of the state playoffs is nothing new to Maplewood-Richmond Heights senior sweeper Matt Green.
When the Blue Devils (21-5) face Sedalia Sacred Heart (16-9-1) in a Class 1 state semifinal at 4 p.m. Friday at Soccer Park, the atmosphere won't really be anything new to Green.
After all, Green wrestled in the Class 1 state tournament at 145 pounds as a junior after helping the Maplewood baseball team to a district title the year before.
Green said no matter who he has played in baseball, wrestled or tried to stop from scoring a goal, the same approach has served him well.
“I'm truly honored to be a part of this team that's going to play in a state semifinal match,” Green said. “I don't know if it has hit us yet. I'm sure it hasn't hit me yet. I just want to go out there and treat this like any other game we play. My job is to stop the other team and help us get into a good position to score goals and win a game. That's how I'm approaching this. I can't speak for the rest of the guys, but for me, it's just more games.”
The Blue Devils are in the state semifinals for the first time in program history after beating Saxony Lutheran 3-0 in the quarterfinal round. That was the seventh shutout in a row for goalkeeper Marlon Ramirez and the eighth in nine games.
They will face a Sacred Heart team that finished third in the state tournament last season.
“We just have to do the basics right and keep things simple,” Green said. “When that's the case, we do well and it helps us win.”
Maplewood's defense will have to work hard to stop the Gremlins, who have a quartet of double-digit scorers.
That group is led by junior captain and forward Jorge Aguero Solis, who has tallied 30 goals and 12 assists.
Blue Devils coach Ryan Robertson said he continues to be impressed by the on-field leadership shown by Green, who has helped lead a defense that has allowed an average of 0.62 goals per game.
“Matt's a fixer, he's a doer,” Robertson said. “Lots of times, I don't even need to tell the rest of the team. I just need to tell Matt and it'll get done. Matt's not the type to put himself on a pedestal, he won't brag. He's just secure in himself. He's a part of that group of kids who succeeded with the baseball team and he was with the team that wrestled at state. That (experience) is big for us.”
Green also has helped out on the offensive end with a goal and two assists for the Blue Devils.
The opening Class 1 semifinal pits Greenwood (16-5) against St. Paul Lutheran (21-4) at 2 p.m. The championship is at 4 p.m. Saturday, and no matter the results, the Blue Devils are in uncharted territory.