Hallsville Knocks Off Perennial Power + District Rival Kilgore, 3-2
LONGVIEW -- Before this season, the Hallsville Bobcats boys soccer program had never won a playoff game. They added another "first" to the list Thursday night.
Hallsville, a third-place finisher in District 32-4A, stunned league champion Kilgore 3-2 in their Class 4A sectional playoff at Pirate Stadium. The win ended Kilgore's run of four consecutive trips to the regional tournament.
The Bobcats (20-5-3), who suffered a pair of 2-0 defeats to Kilgore during the regular season, advanced to the Region II quarterfinals where they will meet the winner between Red Oak and Dallas Wilson.
Kilgore, which reached the regional final a season ago, finished its season at 18-3-1.
"We're to the regional quarterfinals, and of course, we'd never won a playoff game," said Hallsville coach Tom Wait. "So I think these guys are starting to like it. I'm excited, I've been working really hard trying to get it going and tonight it paid off. The guys executed fantastically to the game plan we had tonight."
With the game tied at 2-2, David Martinez scored on a header which came courtesy of Joey Ortiz's free kick with 30:37 remaining in the second half.
"We got the goal in the second half, and we talked at halftime 'if we got a goal, we've got a formation we're going to get into,'" Wait said. "It was just how we rehearsed it and we got the goal. We had to play 30 minutes of just smart soccer."
Hallsville did just that, but did have to fend off a couple of serious scoring chances by Kilgore down the stretch. Benito Bustos' header from close range was snuffed out by Hallsville keeper Clyvel Jean-Baptiste with 8:40 to play, and the Bobcats breathed a sigh of relief when a header attempt by Kilgore's Cristian Perales sailed just over the goal with only 20 seconds remaining.
"This is the first time we've beaten Kilgore, and I knew we were getting close," Wait said. "(Kilgore coach Aaron Erickson) does a fantastic job with his players and they're prepared. We had to make some serious adjustments, at least for their top three (Bustos, Alexis Torres and Ramise Mojica). They're superior ball players."
After a slow start, the final 20 minutes of the first half was filled with a furry of activity.
Caleb Hagans gave Hallsville a 1-0 lead when he rebounded a missed header by teammate Andrew Southard, which followed Juan Lopez's corner kick with 19:48 showing on the first-half clock.
But Kilgore was quick to respond. Literally.
Bustos blasted a free kick from 34 yards past a diving Jean-Baptiste that sent the crowd into a frenzy with 15:11 to play until halftime. Kilgore then took a 2-1 lead less than 10 minutes later on an unassisted goal from Emmanuel Ceja.
The less-experienced Hallsville team could've folded after relinquishing their early lead, but the Bobcats were far from done. Jamil Young found a small crease from 19 yards out, and whizzed a shot past J.D. Perales to tie game at 2-2 with 4:31 to play in the half.
"I was elated about how we adjusted," Wait said. "We just dug in deep, and when you dig in that deep and just want something so bad … our guys did a great job. We had to score. We haven't scored on that cat (J.D. Perales) all year long; that's one of the best goalkeepers in the state. The key with that in breaking his spirit a little bit was Jamil Young's shot. That was a blast and he's capable of doing that. Scoring, believing in ourselves and just getting that momentum kept us going."