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Kike Rico + J.D. Perales Lift Kilgore to 2-1 Win Over John Tyler in 4A Sectional Playoff

LONGVIEW — Coming into the season, Kilgore boys soccer coach Aaron Erickson was concerned about how quick his young team would come together.

Two players he didn’t have to worry about — senior goalkeeper J.D. Perales and senior forward Kike Rico — are coming through at just the right time and have extended the Bulldogs’ season for at least a few more days.

Rico scored twice and Perales turned away 12 shots in Kilgore’s 2-1 win over John Tyler on Thursday in a Class 4A Region II sectional playoff at Lobo Stadium.

Kilgore (20-3-4), two years removed from a berth in the state final, advanced to the regional-quarterfinal round next week where the Bulldogs will meet either Ennis or Red Oak.

“I was worried about it at the beginning because we lost all those seniors last year,” Erickson said. “But as the season’s gone on I feel like we’ve figured out a way to do it the way Kilgore always does it and find a way to come back at the end.”

Perales was under duress all night from a John Tyler (17-5-2) attack that racked up 20 shots on goal.

“It’s nothing new really for him I guess, just the same-old, same-old,” Erickson said of Perales. “He always comes up big for us and he’s a big reason why we’re here right now.”

John Tyler held a 20-11 edge in shots on goal and controlled the ball for most of the match.

“We left some chances begging,” said John Tyler coach Howard Story. “We should’ve put a couple away in the first 15 minutes. I think we had them a little bit on their heels.”

All the scoring occurred in the first half, and Kilgore survived several second-half scoring opportunities from John Tyler, which outshot the Bulldogs 8-4 in the final 40 minutes. Perales came up with five saves in the second half.

“I’d like to see us control the ball a little bit better,” Erickson said. “We were on our heels the whole time and that’s a credit to John Tyler, of course. But as long as we hold our composure and do what we’re supposed to do, we can keep going.”

Kilgore took a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute. Alexis Torres threw it in to Nano Peralez before Peralez passed it to Rico, who slipped his shot past JT goalkeeper Daniel Montoya.

John Tyler found the equalizer with about 10 minutes remaining in the half. Porfirio Benitez’s penalty kick deflected off Kilgore’s wall of defenders and back to Benitez, who found an opening over the head of Perales.

The Bulldogs came right back less than six minutes later when Torres’ corner kick connected with Rico, who put in his second goal of the match.

“He came up big,” Erickson said of Rico. “He’s one of my seniors that I’m losing next year and he’s been on varsity since his freshman year, and I think it’s showing up his senior year because this is the year he’s kinda broken out.”

John Tyler, despite holding a 12-7 lead in first-half shots on goal, trailed entering the second half.

“We were still coming at them, but they’ve got a couple of lethal forwards and a hell of a goalie,” Story said. “And I still thought that we were going to pull even.”

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