John Tyler Rallies for 2-1 Win Against Henderson in 4A Boys Soccer Playoffs
LONGVIEW -- John Tyler head coach Howard Story's heart got a bit of a stress test Monday evening at Pine Tree Stadium, but at the end of 80 minutes it was his squad that advanced in the 4A playoffs.
The John Tyler Lions rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit against Henderson for a 2-1 bi-district win and a date with Texas High later this week.
"We had a couple of opportunities in the first half and I said to the guys, 'When you get into the box like that it's got to be sangre fría,'" the coach said. "You have to be cold-blooded. Just cool."
The first half was more than frustrating for a team that had a key player sidelined for a red card in the district finale, an ineligible player, center midfielder Aron Alonso coming back from a concussion and junior varsity call up Rafael Ibarra playing significant minutes on the left side.
Henderson got the upper hand in the 11th minute of the match when Sergio Gonzalez took a beautiful pass through the Lions' back line for an uncontested goal, and it was putting together some quality scoring chances with fewer possessions in striking distance of the net.
The John Tyler Lions, however, controlled possession time by a wide margin through its scoreless drought. The crowd sensed it was just a matter of time.
Then John Tyler produced.
It got the equalizer on an errant Henderson clear attempt. Alonso got his body on the ball, put it on the turf of Pine Tree's $16 million stadium and fired for an unassisted goal about 15 yards yards from the goal with 23:28 to play.
"Aron Alonso is still coming back from his concussion and didn't look too sharp in the center-mid," Story said. "I had already decided to put him up top when he came up to me at halftime. He goes, 'Coach, put me up top. Let me get back into the game.' He brought a lot of ball control up top through the game which was good because we were having to body up a lot in front of the box."
John Tyler got the winning goal in the 71st minute when Jose Paz found Aurelio Godina in front of the next with a cross pass.
"I thought, 'Oh man. He overhit it,'" Story said. "Then I watched (Godina) rise above the other guys to knot it in which was a great feeling."
There's more work for John Tyler to do. It will play Texas High, which got a first-round bye, on Thursday at Longview High School's Lobo Stadium.
"We've just got to go back to training again and start over," Alonso said. "We won today and today's done. Today is history. We've just got to look forward. Second round, we've got to try harder, train harder. That's how you get progression."
John Tyler finished the regular season 20-2-3 and wants to show it belongs among the state's best. It's now six games away.
"We've just got to win," Godina said. "If not, it's our last time playing soccer. I'm a senior and it'll be my last time playing. I don't want to lose."