WICHITA FALLS – In a battle that commenced nearly four hours after its intended start time and that included both extra time and extra participants in the form of bitter cold and brutal wind, the Lake Dallas boys soccer team saw the book finally close on its historic season.
The Falcons, who got a goal from junior Brock Pope to force overtime in a final spurt of late-game heroics, fell to El Paso Bel Air at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls, 4-1, after three overtime goals sealed the 5A Region I title for the Highlanders.
The game, originally slated for 10 a.m., began at 2 p.m. with a steady rain falling, a wind chill in the mid 30s and winds blowing out of the north at 25 mph. Over the course of the opening half, which was spent nearly exclusively in the Falcons’ end with the Highlanders going with the wind to start the contest, those winds would top 30 mph and gust up to 44 mph.
The weather’s impact on the contest, Martin said, was unfortunate.
“We had tried to explore some other options to get the kids a better environment for the game,” he said. “This wasn’t a soccer game, today. It was just a contest of who could get lucky with regards to the wind. … Something like this just boils down to being in the right spot at the right time.”
Though the Falcons survived nearly 28 minutes without surrendering a goal to the wind-aided Highlanders, Bel Air senior Omar Zamora pierced sophomore keeper Michael Gibbons with 12:36 remaining in the first frame to give his side a 1-0 advantage at the break.
The possession flipped in favor of the Falcons in the second half, as the match was contested in the Highlanders’ defending third. However, as the clock ticked past five minutes remaining in regulation, a big save from Bel Air sophomore keeper Kevin Pena earlier in the period and a few near-misses had the Falcons on the ropes.
Then, with chaos erupting in front of Pena, Pope deposited the Falcons’ third chance after consecutive saves from the goalie to knot the match at one goal a side and send the bout into overtime.
The Falcons’ high was short-lived, however, as Bel Air junior Bryan Guzman sent home the Highlanders’ go-ahead goal in the first minute of extra time to give the program a lead it would not relinquish.
The side would add another with just under a minute left in the first overtime on a bar-down strike from Juan Contreras and a second from Guzman as the second overtime wound toward its halfway point, fully icing the match.
Lake Dallas will lose only seniors Jayden Hendrix and Carlos Zamora to graduation heading into next season, and Martin said the pair will leave behind a solid foundation and example he hopes will combine with the team’s experience during its lengthy postseason run to bring continued success.
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