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Heath, Francis Howell Central play heads above to win Fort Zumwalt Classic title

Heath, Francis Howell Central play heads above to win Fort Zumwalt Classic title

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O'FALLON, Mo. — Noah Heath used his head twice in quick succession Saturday morning to help lift the Francis Howell Central boys soccer team to the title in the Fort Zumwalt Classic.

Off the bounce of a free kick by teammate Carter Redfield and with his back to the goal, Heath shielded Fort Zumwalt West sophomore goalkeeper Brenden Hummer from the ball and with a leap slammed the ball into the net with the back of his head.

Heath's goal in the 76th minute gave the Spartans their third and final lead in a 3-2 victory for the tournament title.

“That's not really something I've ever done, doing it like that,” Heath said. “I've scored headers before — this is my second this week. To do it like that, without facing the goal, that's new. I just saw their keeper moving up to grab the ball and I got there first and just got my head on the ball and hit it as hard as I could with the back of my head. It worked out great.”

The Spartans (3-0) have won their first three games of the season for the first time since 2017.

But they twice had one-goal leads erased by Zumwalt West (2-1), including in the 69th minute when Tyler Kaminski scored on a free kick from 35 yards out to tie the game 2-2.

“Really, I felt confident, like the game was ours," Howell Central coach Derek Phillips said. "Soccer is fickle, though, and it felt for a while there like the game could slip away. The win is a tribute to our kids, we're a senior-based team. We've got kids that have been around and their character showed there.”

The Spartans went ahead 1-0 in the 28th minute on a goal by senior Jimmy Sanchez before the Jaguars tied the game 80 seconds before halftime on an own goal.

Howell Central regained its lead at 2-1 in the 48th minute on a header by Josiah Gould before Kaminski's tying strike 21 minutes later.

But the Spartans pulled out the title by keeping their composure despite the late tie.

“They were allowed to play to their strengths and we didn't do what we needed to do, to play to our strengths,” Zumwalt West coach Brad Fischer said. “Every time we play those guys, it's a spirited game like that. They always play hard, they're a good team and they play smart. They got us a couple of times in the air and we have to do a better job of limiting those opportunities. We gave them chances because we were under pressure and we played the ball out of bounds. We set them up for long throw-ins.”

Ryan Hoshaw earned the win in goal for Howell Central.

Heath said the victory played right into what the Spartans want to do.

“We want to play good, tough defense and have success on our set pieces, that's what's going to be important to us going forward in order to play well and be successful as the season goes on,” Heath said. “I really feel like we did that (Saturday) as a team and those factors played a major role in our wining this game and the championship.”

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