Mesquite Poteet Scores Late for 1-0 Class 4A Region II Championship Win Over Kilgore
CARROLLTON -- Kilgore's defense kept its Class 4A Region II boys soccer tournament foes scoreless for almost 147 minutes, but Mesquite Poteet broke through when it counted most.
Poteet's Carlos Cardenas sprinted 60 yards down his sideline before running Kilgore's back line to set up Travis Avant for an easy five-yard goal in the 67th minute in the Pirates' 1-0 4A Region II championship victory Saturday afternoon at Standridge Stadium.
Poteet (23-1-3) advances to the UIL Class 4A state tournament next weekend in Georgetown. Kilgore, which has reached the regional final four consecutive years and played in the 2011 state championship round, finished the season 22-4-4.
Mesquite Poteet has won all five of its playoff matches by one goal.
Kilgore junior goalkeeper J.D. Perales, who had a strong performance in Kilgore's 1-0 regional semifinal win Friday against Frisco Wakeland, had 12 saves in Saturday's contest vs. Poteet, including eight in the first half when the Pirates' offense played with the wind at its back.
"It wasn't just him, it was everybody in the back," said second-year Kilgore coach Aaron Erickson. "Seventeen shutouts aren't just on the goalie. It's all of them in the back. But he definitely helps us a lot. He's very important to this team."
Kilgore dodged bullet after bullet from Poteet's Charles Ojeda, who entered the afternoon with 32 goals this season. Ojeda repeatedly threatened to score on free kicks, then got a penalty kick opportunity in the 53rd minute. Perales dove to his left and Ojeda shot behind him to Perales' right, but the dribbler ricocheted off the left post to keep the match a scoreless tie.
Fourteen and a half minutes later was Cardenas' goal-producing run. Kilgore had three shots on goal -- including Victor Martinez' breakaway attempt inside of 10 yards that Poteet goalkeeper Trevor Gilbert deflected in the 75th minute -- and a couple of other good opportunities, but the Pirates' defense held.
"Right after we missed the PK, the confidence wasn't shaken. It could've been easy to just take the air out," said Poteet coach Colby Peek. "But I've got four great captains and eight great seniors, and they're not gonna let this team lose confidence, they're not gonna lose their composure, and they're not gonna let them get their heads down."
When asked what he told his players after the match, Erickson voiced his displeasure with the officiating.
"After a game like that I'd say I'd call the UIL and ask them about the referees they sent over here," Erickson said.
Nevertheless, Erickson praised his team for getting back to the regional finals, especially considering the Bulldogs suffered significant roster turnover after last season's trip.
"We handled it well," he said. "We got this far and there's a lot of people around here not playing right now, so we've gotta be thankful for that."