SPLENDORA — The Splendora Wildcats were on the hunt Saturday evening and it had nothing to do with Easter Eggs.

What they were hunting for was a piece of history for their soccer program.

Never before had Splendora reached the regional tournament.

Now it has.

Splendora trailed to start, but came out on top 4-1 as they defeated Columbia in the Region III-4A quarterfinals at Wildcat Stadium.

The Wildcats (20-7-2) advance to face Sealy (15-7) next week in the fourth round.

“We’ve been working the whole season hard,” Splendora junior Baruc Delgado said. “Preseason, we put in the work. We’ve played some hard teams. But I think we can go pretty far to the state final.”

Splendora head coach Tim Gillespie reflected back to the last team that made it to the regional quarterfinals in 2016.

“Five years ago, we had a really, really good team then,” Gillespie said. “We got to the regional quarters and we got knocked out by Center. They went all the way to the region final. Getting this game here was huge for our program and our school.”

Columbia (15-4-1) came in 2-2 in its last four matches and had never advanced past the area round until this year. The Roughnecks fell in their final two district games before bouncing back with wins over North Forest and then a 3-2 overtime win over Liberty earlier this week.

Columbia jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute as Kevin Garcia scored on an open net after an initial shot from his right rang off the post.

The Roughnecks held that lead until things unraveled in the 33rd minute.

Delgado scored from the right side after a great pass from senior Hector Villegas in the middle.

“They’ve been doing that all year,” Gillespie said of the duo.

Delgado felt that it was a big impact goal.

“I think it was a really important goal to score before halftime,” he said. “You just put the team back into the game. It just gets the team going and we went from there.”

Two minutes later, Villegas was shoved in the box by the Roughnecks goalkeeper and was awarded a penalty kick.

Villegas converted and the Wildcats carried the 2-1 lead into halftime.

“We’re feeling pretty confident after we scored that goal,” Delgado said. “We took control of the game and felt like we were going to win.”

Gillespie felt the halftime lead was of big importance.

“To be up 2-1 at halftime was huge,” he said. “That third goal is what really did it. That separates the game.”

Splendora used that positive energy right out of halftime with a great scoring chance in the 44th minute Villegas shot a ball off the post and Fabian Artega’s follow-up went high.

It wasn’t until the 71st minute when Splendora got some breathing room. Delgado scored his second of the game and fourth in the past two contests for a 3-1 lead.

“They were pounding on us and trying to score their second goal,” Delgado said. “We just stayed strong, scored that third goal and finished the game.”

Villegas then added the last goal of the day -- his sixth of the postseason -- in the 78th minute.

“They’re a good team,” Gillespie said. “I was very impressed with the way they played. But our boys just wanted it more.”

Splendora’s goalkeeper Ivan Olguin was steady in net with several saves.

Splendora carries a 10-game unbeaten streak into the Sealy game. Six of those games have been shutouts.

The Wildcats started the playoffs last week with a 7-0 win over Bridge City and then defeated Houston Furr 3-2 this past Tuesday in the area round.

rtate@hcnonline.com

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