By Colin Bado, TSB Staff
ROUND ROCK — Coach Alan Pocock’s McKinney Lions held a stout Humble Kingwood team to zero throughout regulation and two overtime periods. Still, it wasn’t enough to win their Class 5A Region II Semifinal match on Friday evening.
“I feel broken hearted for the guys,” said Pocock, after his squad lost in a dramatic shootout. “It’s been an incredible year, and they have nothing to hang their heads about.”
The Lions (17-4-5), despite their underdog status, stood toe-to-toe with Kingwood (21-1-4) and came within a whisker of winning the match, which would have set up an all-MISD regional championship Saturday afternoon against rival McKinney Boyd.
Instead, Kingwood advanced to meet Boyd at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex in Plano.
“Kingwood lost one game all year,” Pocock said. “We’re a 5A school with 4A numbers, and we held them to zero goals in the Regional Semifinal. It came down to Russian Roulette.”
Both teams chose five players to participate in the shootout. Alternating shooters, the Lions went first, selecting Mikey Swim. Without hesitation, Swim drilled the ball into the back of the net.
Kingwood’s Joe Decker made his PK, keeping the score level at one apiece.
One of the Lions’ goalkeepers, Quique Vicens, went second and like Swim, placed his shot perfectly in the upper corner of the goal.
Anticipating the equalizer, Kingwood’s, Dimitri Brown shot his ball to the bottom corner, but Lions keeper Rylan Whan made an outstanding save.
Leading 2-1, the Lions’ Emilio Vegas saw his shot slam off the crossbar and bounce outside of the goal.
Keeping Kingwood’s hopes alive, Patrick Herzberger evened the score at 2-2.
McKinney’s Dante Nunez, drove the ball on the ground towards the bottom left corner, but his shot went wide of the frame.
The Lions’ goalkeeper would be forced to bare the burden of keeping the game within reach. Connor Hortung rocketed a ball, but again Whan came up with an exceptional save, keeping the Lions in the match.
In order to win, Lions’ Chris Shelby would have to make his shot. Shelby shot left, and Kingwood keeper Jack DiSorbo guessed right and made the save.
Do or die, Whan would have to make the save against Tom Navrarette for the shootout to continue. Navarette’s shot found its way past the goal-line, and just like that, the Lions’ season was over.
“We really wanted to get another matchup with Boyd in the Regional Final,” said Pocock. “The guys out performed beyond expectations. They weren’t just satisfied to be in the playoffs, but they wanted to be successful.”
After losing in the first round of the 2012 season as a 4A school, the Lions made it to the Regional Semifinals in their first year as a 5A school.
During regulation, Kingwood and the McKinney both had opportunities to score but the defenses and the goalies played brilliant soccer.
Kingwood’s Trey Richardson coordinated the offensive attacks. From center midfield, he created scoring opportunities and dictated the possession of the game. The Lions were able to do a good enough job, keeping Kingwood’s scoresheet at zero.
McKinney’s two-goalie system continued to pay off as Vicens and Whan made jaw dropping saves that left the crowd in awe.
The Lions will lose captains Mikey Swim and Gerson Mendoza as well as Tom Navarette for the 2014 season. “Losing that triangle will leave a hole on the field and our hearts,” said Pocock. “I really want to thank the fans for taking the time to come out here. I look over to the stands and see blue and gold and it’s just amazing.”