FORT WALTON BEACH - At this point, even terrible weather can’t slow down Choctawhatchee’s boys’ soccer team.
Under dreary conditions that included heavy rain and plunging temperatures, sophomore Sean Hoffstatter delivered a pair of goals in the first half and one more in the second while Choctaw’s defense registered its 19th shutout of the season in a dominating 4-0 win over visiting Washington in Wednesday night’s Region 1-3A quarterfinal at Joe Etheredge Stadium.
“We wanted to come out and get quick pressure tonight, and we did that,” said Choctaw head coach Chris McDaniel, who watched his team improve to 21-2-2 on the season. “This team is great defensively, and they continued to play well.”
With the win, Choctaw advances to Saturday’s Region 1 semifinal, where the Indians will host either Gulf Breeze or Rutherford. The Indi-ans own victories this season over both.
In Wednesday night’s romp over Washington, Hofstatter struck quickly, and the visiting Wildcats never figured out an answer for a faster, more physical Choctaw squad. Five minutes into the game, Shane Nicholson sent a corner kick into the Washington box, and Hofftstatter was there to guide into the back of the net with little resistance to give Choctaw a 1-0 lead.
“Sean is catching fire here lately,” said McDaniel of the sophomore, who also scored three goals in Choctaw’s 5-0 dismantling of Ruther-ford for the District 2-3A crown Friday night. “We’ve got Derek (Castelin) back in there with him and Sean is comfortable playing with him.”
While that lead would stand for much of the first half, Choctaw put the game away just before halftime, as Hoffstatter scored his second goal on an assist from Trapper Chechak and Shane Nicholson buried a penalty kick goal to push the advantage to 3-0.
On the night, Choctaw put 17 shots on goal, while Washington managed just five.
While Choctaw’s defense kept Washington from putting much pressure on goal keeper Adam Cahill for much of the night, Cahill was out-standing when Washington did manage to manufacture scoring opportunities. Cahill delivered a diving save in the 15th minute of the first half to thwart Washington’s biggest scoring threat, and he added another late in the second half with the game well in hand.
In the 55th minute of the game, Hoffstatter completed his hat trick, taking an assist from Dominik Jordan and deflecting the ball into the net for a 4-0 lead.
“That was a perfect ball,” said Hoffstatter. “We didn’t start out great tonight but once we got going, we were good. They were giving me the ball and I just did what I could.”
Now 21-2-2, Choctaw turns its attention to Saturday night when it will face Gulf Breeze or Rutherford for a chance to move to the region finale. That game is set to start at 7 p.m.