Kilgore Boys Blank Mineola In Opening Round Of Soccer Playoffs
TYLER -- Kilgore waited about a year for Thursday and did not disappoint the naked eye in its return to the postseason after a heartbreaker in the 2016 state semifinals.
The Bulldogs blasted Mineola, 5-0, at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium in the bi-district round of the Class 4A playoffs to start what head coach Austin Hall hopes is a return trip to Georgetown for this season's final four.
Hall is nearly convinced this Kilgore team has the potential to erase last season's penalty kicks defeat after a scoreless draw through 100 minutes with ultimate state champion Palestine. Nearly convinced.
"We won our district and we're trying to not overlook our opponents," Hall said. "These people in these other districts are going to be pretty good, and we're not going to have some easy road ahead of us. Hopefully, this was a good game to realize that in. We were able to come back, play our way through it, and not give up a goal or anything like that. Our defense played pretty well.
"But, again, not how we're supposed to be. It just comes back to focusing a little more, working hard in practice, knowing what your goal is and then doing everything you can to reach it."
It took Kilgore (16-5-2) -- which has not lost to a 4A opponent all season -- one half and one minute to lock Mineola (6-8-1) away. At that point, forward Elian Torres was able to recover his own rebound off the post for a 2-0 lead.
Hall's issue was the Bulldogs maintained possession through most of the match. In spite of that, the Yellowjackets exited the first half with two scoring opportunities to his side's one goal on one legitimate scoring attempt.
But Kilgore's two-man back line of David Garcia and Mateo Meraz were the great trump card in surviving the half with a 1-0 advantage, given by striker Yonaton Contreras' drive to the net less than eight minutes into the contest.
The Bulldogs had more athletic sets of attackers and midfielders, so they largely crunched Mineola into its back third of the field. Therefore, the Yellowjackets only threatened when they could pick off an errant pass and beat Kilgore's attackers up the field in transition.
Garcia and Meraz, both of whom started on the semifinalist team, usually beat the counter attacks by creeping forward and drawing offsides calls. In soccer, the carrier has to have one defender in front of him, or at least parallel to him, when receiving the ball to remain onside.
Mineola committed about five offsides infractions per half while trying to work their way around the defending back line.
"David has been a four-year starter on the varsity level and has definitely earned his keep," Hall said. "Mateo is right there with them. They have a great relationship on the field, know where each other are at, so we give them a lot of freedom."
Kilgore found a stride Hall was pleased with just after Torres' goal with 39:04 to play.
Forward Wanya McIntyre shook two Mineola defenders and beat the goal keeper to the back left corner of the net 19 minutes later.
Backups Raul Cedillo and Tucker Konczak scored goals in the final five minutes. Konczak's score came with 3.4 seconds remaining in the Yellowjackets' season.
Pleasant Grove, which had no first-round opponent available as University Interscholastic League soccer still catches on in and around East Texas, will face Kilgore in the area round.
That game will be played either Monday or Tuesday at a time, date and location to be determined between the two schools.
"They'll come ready to play," Hall said. "We've played them this year and last year. We were able to come out on top. They'll definitely be coming out trying to get their revenge."