CARROLLTON -- Kilgore gained an early lead and rode its veteran goalkeeper to the state quarterfinals.

Senior Jose Rico's rebound goal in the 13th minute was all junior J.D. Perales and the Kilgore defense needed in a 1-0 shutout victory against Frisco Wakeland in Friday's Class 4A Region II soccer semifinal at Standridge Stadium.

Kilgore (22-3-4) plays Mesquite Poteet in Saturday's 1:30 p.m. regional championship for a berth in next week's state tournament.

"Once we got up I knew I was gonna play defense because I can always depend on J.D.," said second-year Kilgore head coach Aaron Erickson, who has taken the Bulldogs to the regional final two years in a row. "I didn't feel like they had a lot of shots that were (really) scary. A few good ones, but for the most part nothing J.D. couldn't handle."

In the first half, Kilgore had the wind, which wasn't as strong as it usually is at the regional tournament, but was a bit of a factor. That gave Wakeland (18-8-4) the wind in the second half.

Wakeland's Danny Fernandez fired a free kick from the left side outside of the numbers off the crossbar 13 minutes into the second half. Fifteen minutes later, Perales saved a dangerous floater near the mouth of the goal and was knocked into the left post, resulting in a Wakeland yellow card. Perales stayed down for a moment before getting up and continuing play.

"I felt like my heart dropped out of my chest," Erickson said and laughed, describing his reaction to Perales taking a spill. "He actually has the reputation of getting hurt every year in the playoffs. Luckily he's been healhty and we've all been healthy all year. It's nice to go into tomorrow's game with him as our goalie."

Perales saved a Brett Berdinsky shot in the 72nd minute and intercepted a Fernandez corner kick six minutes later. Wakeland's final opportunity came on Tristan Honaker's corner kick with 40 seconds remaining, but a header attempt drove the ball too far left and out of bounds, allowing Kilgore to hold on for the win.

Kilgore plays in its fourth regional final in four seasons Saturday. The Bulldogs won the 2011 Region II championship before losing in the state title match.

Though the program has made the regional tournament a regular achievement, back-end experience concerned Erickson entering the regional tournament. After Friday's effort, he's confident in his team's ability to handle the big stage.

"All three in the back are new to this and I thought we might go into it a little wide-eyed," Erickson said. "I felt like they stepped up and played one of the better games they've played all year as far as marking and everything else."