Kilgore falls short in soccer regional final
By Jimmy Carter firstname.lastname@example.org
April 13, 2013 at 11 p.m.
CARROLLTON – Kilgore's boys soccer team's fourth consecutive trip to the regional final didn't include a second trip to state.
Bulldogs goalkeeper J.D. Perales made save after save during the match, but Mesquite Poteet's Travis Avant finally snuck a shot past him late.
His goal in the 67th minute lifted Poteet to a 1-0 win over Kilgore in the Class 4A Region II final, ending the Bulldogs' season a game shy of heading to the state tournament for the second time in three years.
"We got this far and there's a lot of other teams around here not playing now," Kilgore coach Aaron Erickson. "So we're thankful for that."
Poteet (22-1-3) outshot Kilgore 20-9 and mostly controlled possession throughout the match, but Kilgore had several chances to tie it late.
Junior Derric Davis had the Bulldogs' best scoring opportunity when he made a run in the final 10 minutes. But Poteet goalie Trevor Gilbert came up with the save to maintain the Pirates' lead.
While Kilgore (22-4-4) had difficulty maintaining possession against a fast Poteet defense, Erickson also said officiating played a role late in the match.
"After a game like that I'd say I'd call the UIL and ask them about the referees they sent over here," Erickson said.
Kilgore managed to keep Poteet off the scoreboard for most of the match despite the near-constant pressure the Pirates put on Perales and the Kilgore defense. Perales finished with 12 saves and almost single-handedly kept Poteet at bay at times, including a stretch of two diving saves in a 10-second span in the first half when Poteet had the wind behind it.
"He's special," Poteet coach Colby Peek said. "He's won lots of soccer games. He made lots of plays tonight. He's got that experience. He's just one of those very special players and he's one of the best we've faced this year. No doubt."
Poteet squandered a huge opportunity when senior forward Charles Ojeda miss-hit a penalty kick in the 53rd minute, slowly dribbling it off the goalpost. Ojeda forced Perales to make four saves on long free kicks, but blew his easiest opportunity of the game.
But he atoned for it shortly after a second-half water break. His run down the sideline drew the Kilgore defense and allowed him to assist Avant's short goal for the only score of the match.
"We had the water break right after we missed the PK and the confidence wasn't shaken," Peek said. "And that's a kid, Charles Ojeda, that's got 32 goals this year and I've never seen him miss a PK in my life. It could have been easy to take the air out of it, but I've got four great captains and eight great seniors. They're not going to let them lose confidence and lose composure."
(Follow Jimmy Carter on Twitter @jicartersports)