Lufkin Downs Mount Pleasant In Extra Penalty Kicks For Spot In 5A Region II Tournament
TYLER -- Three hours of emotions gave way to just one in the milliseconds after Cesar Camacho netted Lufkin's game-winning goal.
Setback after setback and close call after close call, the Panthers edged Mount Pleasant 5-4 in penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw in Tuesday's Class 5A Region II quarterfinal at Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium. A draw that was scoreless through a full 80 minutes of regulation.
"We created so many chances," winning head coach Russell Shaw said. "I know we hit off the post a couple of times. Their goalkeeper was very active. We had so many chances. In the end, I felt like maybe we had the better of it. And it bounced our way on the last one."
Lufkin extended its winning streak to 22 games and, as the District 16-5A champion, will be considered East Texas' best hope for a 5A state championship when it crosses paths with Frisco Wakeland at the regional tournament Friday in Carrollton.
On the other side of the field laid Mount Pleasant's players. It would have been more humane for their District 15-5A championship season to be spoiled by the flip of a coin.
The Tigers went stride-for-stride with Lufkin through 32 combined shot attempts and 11 realistic scoring chances. They tied the game in overtime less than four minutes after the Panthers found the go-ahead goal.
Furthermore, Mount Pleasant had the chance to win in the 'shootout.'
"That team, they played their --," Lufkin goalkeeper Omar Roque said before pausing. "That was the best team I've seen so far this season. They played a good game. They were very good."
The spirited competition took an ugly turn in the final seconds of regulation.
Lufkin earned a throw-in with 25 seconds left on a continuous clock near midfield, but a member of Mount Pleasant's support staff scooped up the ball as Lufkin sweeper Jake Williams sprinted for it. The recipient did not give the ball to Williams in a timely manner and burned precious seconds.
Panthers players were so frustrated with the move that the throw-in never occurred. The two sides engaged in a minor altercation instead.
After yellow cards for both sides, officials awarded the Panthers enough time to retry the throw-in and one last attack upfield.
While that last run did not provide any result, the new tone was set.
It didn't take long for Lufkin to capitalize on the adrenaline. Forward Javier Patlan captured a ball that rolled off a Mount Pleasant sweeper's foot and netted it 1:04 into the first of two planned 10-minute extra periods.
Less than four minutes later, however, Tigers forward Kevin Perez found the equalizer in traffic.
Neither team recorded a shot on goal in the second overtime period.
Mount Pleasant's first shooter missed wide left to start the best-of-five penalty kicks segment, but the team caught a break when Lufkin's second shooter sailed one over the crossbar for a 1-1 score through two rounds.
A diving save by Roque in the third round against Mount Pleasant was negated because the officials determined he stepped off the goal line before the shooter made contact with the ball.
Both teams finished the regularly scheduled portion of penalty kicks deadlocked, 4-4.
The tie through five shot attempts aside instigated a sudden death round.
Roque made a diving save to his right side. It counted.
Camacho shot straight to the center of the goal. Mount Pleasant's keeper guessed, dove to the right and created an open lane.
That's how the marquee matchup ended.
"East Texas soccer is alive and well," Shaw said. "Mount Pleasant has been there and has been representing us for a while. We've been down in the Houston area and we're glad to be back this way. We felt like we had a good team going into the season and we've just progressed."
Lufkin will be joined by district foe Jacksonville -- which scored two late goals for a 2-1 win against Hallsville -- in the regional tournament at Carrollton's Standridge Stadium.
If the Panthers defeat Wakeland at 4 p.m. Friday and Jacksonville tops Wylie East, the two area teams will meet Saturday in Carrollton with a state tournament berth on the line.
"That says something about our district," Shaw said. "We played Jacksonville twice this year, both games were tough. It makes me real proud to hear they won on top of this win."