Pine Tree’s Season Ends Against Frisco Wakeland
CARROLLTON -- Pine Tree head coach André Lo stared out to the field that had undoubtedly hosted Friday's most exciting soccer game in the state.
The Pirates lost their 4A Region II semifinal game to Frisco Wakleland, 3-2, with the game's final four goals coming in the game's final nine minutes. There were some tears, some hugs and some high fives amongst the losing players as they came to grips with reality.
Reality had a soft side, however. Wakeland couldn't wait to praise the gritty Pine Tree team that threatened to be just the third team to beat it this season in a setting where it wouldn't get bumped and grinded across the field.
"Wakeland really deserved to win," Lo said. "We played them very tough and Jerad (Jimenez), our goalie, kept us in the game the first 15 minutes. Our back line played well with a sophomore in the middle. One disadvantage for us is we just don't have the depth."
Jiminez made three critical saves in the game's early minutes. Early jitters got the best of the Pirates at times, but the keeper held his ground and forced an 0-0 halftime draw while Pine Tree (21-5-3) settled into the game and began creating opportunities of its own.
Wakeland (21-4-3) opened the scoring in the game's 50th minute after two more major stops by Jimenez. Corey Cantor beat the defense and put a shot into the goal's bottom right corner.
It looked like that 1-0 lead for Wakeland would hold up. The Pirates couldn't penetrate the final line of its defenders.
Then there was a breakthrough.
True Clark headed in a ball on a perfect pass from Allan Maceda to draw even with 11:31 to play. Unfortunately, Wakeland answered back less than a minute later with a goal from Gustavo Lilly.
Less than three minutes later, Clark tied the game again.
The two teams pushed even harder, albeit less organized, from there. Good tackles, long clearing attempts and a basketball-like physicality created a buzzing environment for a what had been a laid back Friday afternoon crowd.
"I think at the end both teams were a little tired, so both teams were stretched," Lo said. "The key element is, in the final situation, we made an error."
With 3:01 to play, Wakeland's Cantor netted the game-winning goal on a nice shot from about 15 yards out.
Pine Tree's final possession ended on a shot that missed the top of the net by a few feet with 15 seconds to play.
The soccer season wrapped up for all remaining East Texas teams on Friday.
Hallsville, Pine Tree's District 32-4A foe, lost the opening game at Carrollton versus Frisco Liberty and Jacksonville fell to Houston Spring Woods by a goal in the Class 4A m.Region III semifinals.
Wakeland and Liberty will play for the right to advance to next week's state tournament Saturday at 11 a.m. in Carrollton. Liberty is responsible for three of Wakeland's four losses this season.
Back on the East Texas front, Pine Tree will begin to prepare for a return to the region tournament. It will have to clear a strong district consisting of Hallsville, Kilgore, Longview, Marshall, Mount Pleasant, Sulphur Springs, Texas High and Greenville to the west in the new 5A alignment first.
"It's not going to be any easier, but we look forward to that," Lo said. "I think it's all about competition. I want to compete. If we can get out, it means something instead of just moving out of it. I'd rather do that anytime. With the kids coming back, we'll see what happens. I look forward for the opportunity."
The Pirates are expecting to return 14 of the 20 current players on the roster for the 2015 season.
Friday was Pine Tree's first trip to a regional tournament in five years.
"Now they know what it takes," Lo said. "Of course, we cannot say in the future that we're going to come back because it is something to be cherished whenever you get this chance. A lot of things can happen. But we'll work hard, try to get back here again and hopefully a better showing."