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Injuries a concern for West Hall boys heading into semifinal soccer match
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Entering the biggest match of West Hall’s season, the Spartans are closely monitoring the health of three key starters.

Starting midfielder Simon Cobian and starting defender Ronald Portillo are both considered doubtful to start in today’s semifinal game against seventh-ranked Oconee County (15-5).

Cobian, who suffered a fractured right eye socket in Saturday’s 4-0 quarterfinal win over Coahulla Creek, will visit a plastic surgeon in Gainesville this morning to determine his playing status. Portillo received a gash on the top of his head in the same game, which required nine staples.

Meanwhile, midfielder Steve Rodriguez is questionable to play with a strained MCL in his right knee. He may be able to play with a knee brace.

Game time is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Spartan Field in Oakwood. Head coach Tim Gale said he’ll likely need his bench to step up if his starters are unable to suit up.

“I’ll probably set the lineup before, and say ‘If they can play, that’s great,’” said Gale, following Monday’s practice. “If I can get them in the game, we’ll do it that way. But we’ve got guys who can start ahead and give us some good minutes.”

The third-ranked Spartans (11-1-2) are playing Oconee County in the state semifinals for the second straight year. West Hall fell to the Warriors 2-0 last May, and the team is looking for revenge this time around.

Cobian, a senior captain, has been West Hall’s engine in midfield this season. His through-balls and long-distance crosses were key to getting the Spartans on the board quickly Saturday against Coahulla Creek.

Portillo has proven a defensive standout alongside center-back Eduardo Magana, and was responsible for many crucial tackles in the quarterfinal win.

Gale said it’s possible that he could put Jonathan Corona or Juan Regina alongside Magana in defense, if needed.

“We’re fortunate we have guys who we think can play well back there,” said Gale. “We’ve got a strong team in all positions.”

Oconee County has won eight of its last nine games, and has conceded only one goal in its three playoff games so far.

Meanwhile, West Hall is riding a nine-game winning streak into Tuesday’s home game, and has scored at least four goals in each of its playoff games.

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