Jacksonville Boys Move Past Pine Tree On Penalty Kicks
TYLER -- Two of the finest competitors in Friday's Class 5A bi-district playoff game could see the glory awaiting them if they could make just a few more saves.
There's no room for fear in soccer's last resort tiebreaker, but they also entered penalty kicks assured of the despair that would be theirs if they couldn't beat the single most compromising situation a goalkeeper can face.
Jacksonville edged Pine Tree 4-2 in penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw through 80 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of extra time at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
The praise and high fives went to Indians goalie Jorge Arredondo.
"It's exhilarating and nerve-wracking at the same time," the keeper said. "I have to give thanks to my teammates. They kept us in the game throughout it. It's a nerve-wracking situation, but it feels good now. It's luck mostly. Eighty percent is luck, 10 percent is diving the right way and the other 10 percent is just making the stop."
Arredondo made one stop against four Pirates shooters. Two if you factor in how handcuffed goalies are in penalty kicks.
The keeper's second save was negated because the referee ruled Arredondo stepped off the goal line before Pine Tree's shooter made contact with the ball. Fortunately for Jacksonville, the same shooter shot over the crossbar in his retry attempt.
That helped the Indians seal the win. Jonathan Mireles put the game away with a score to the left side in the ensuing frame.
"Pine Tree is always just one of those teams that's going to be solid," Indians head coach Rudy Jaramillo said. "I knew this game was going to be tight, but I didn't imagine it would be like this."
The Pirates, a second-seed from District 15-5A and a regional semifinalist team a season ago, did not look like a team that would be held to two goals early. All the better for Arredondo's share of the District 16-4A third-seed's story.
Pine Tree broke the ice less than seven minutes into the game on Eduardo Vallejo's unassisted breakaway goal, which began 40 yards away from the net. But Jacksonville found the equalizer less than a minute later when Jon Perez got a steal and swung the ball into the far side of the net from mid-range.
Arredondo's side took a 2-1 lead with less than 16 minutes remaining in the first half with a final touch from Alex Sandoval on Alejandro Cruz's pass from the left corner kick area.
However, the Pirates knotted the game at 2-2 before the halftime whistle on Adrian Martinez's put away after a juicy rebound given up by the winning keeper.
But, just like that, offensive production for both sides dropped off and never recovered.
Arredondo stopped six on-target Pine Tree shots through the second half and the two 10-minute overtime periods after beginning the game 1-for-3.
The Pirates, also 1-for-3 on saves in the first half, stopped Jacksonville's final eight shots on goal.
"I think our midfield really outworked theirs as we went on," Jaramillo said. "Whenever you are able to win the middle, the game is going to be a little more favorable to you. I feel that's where our biggest advantage was."
The struggle set up penalty kicks to break the stalemate.
Sandoval, Orlando Rico, Miguel Modesto and Mireles scored on four shots interspersed by Pine Tree attempts.
Kevin Jiminez gave Pine Tree a 1-0 lead in penalty kicks and Juan Garcia got the Pirates back within a 3-2 margin with a goal, but Arredondo gave Jacksonville a permanent advantage by blocking his second shooter faced with a dive to the right.
"Our keeper has worked hard all year and is one of the strongholds of our team," Jaramillo said. "That's why he's one of our captains. He does so much for us."
Jacksonville will take on Mansfield Lake Ridge in the area round of the playoffs. A specific time, date and location will be announced during the weekend.
Arredondo will be back in net for the Indians.
"It feels great," the keeper said. "We beat a really good team and they played us well. It feels great to go to the next round."