With the 2010-2011 school year in the books, it’s only fitting that we take a look back at some of the season’s great moments and games.
Let me begin today’s column by saying that the following list of the Top 5 games of the year is a personal list because it is limited to the events that I personally attended and covered. At the conclusion of this Top 5 countdown, I will post a TownSquareBuzz Best of 2010-2011 Highlight Video so stay tuned for that.
This was my fourth year covering high school sports in McKinney and it’s undoubtedly been the most exciting of my career as a reporter. So without further adieu, let’s take a look at the #3 game of the year.
3. McKinney High vs. Highland Park (boys soccer)
I’ve been playing and covering sports in McKinney long enough to know that just beating Highland Park is a pretty big deal. But eliminating the Scots from postseason action – now that is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
When it came to McKinney High’s 20th consecutive win of the season, none was more exciting than the Lions 2-1 overtime victory over the fourth-seeded Scots. Sophomore scoring leader Oscar Martinez got the Lions on the board early as he timed a chip from Mendoza into the upper corner of the goal.
With just four minutes to go in the first half, it looked like MHS would take a 1-0 lead into halftime but Highland Park’s Stewart Haywood sent a direct free kick past goalkeeper Brett Villarreal to tie the game.
Then things got interesting.
For the first time in six games the Lions had given up a goal and now instead of being an undefeated team in the drivers’ seat, all the momentum was in the hands of the underdog Scots, who were making their biggest playoff run since 2002.
During the Lions halftime team meeting, the Lions were visibly upset about giving up a goal but they didn’t let it bother them for very long.
Villarreal explained that, “You can’t let it get to your head because as soon as you do it’s game over.”
The next 40 minutes of playoff soccer action were all about defensive intensity as neither team was able to get on the board. After regulation, each squad was sent back to its sideline for a five-minute rest before the start of the overtime period. Villarreal described the Lions’ huddle before overtime as “tense and emotional” as the senior players kept reminding each other of how bad they wanted to keep their season alive.
With seven minutes to go in the overtime period, one of the Scots defenders was ejected from the game after receiving a red card. This set up senior Erick Mendoza with a direct free kick opportunity and a chance to potentially close out the game. Mendoza said he practiced free kicks all the time in practice and now was his chance to be a hero.
As the entire crowd at Clark Stadium stood to its feet, Mendoza sent the ball right past Scots goalkeeper Ben Hickey and into the net for a 2-1 lead. The Lions would hang on to win the game and received a huge ovation from the crowd in what would turn out to be their final win of the season.
Player of the Game: Erick Mendoza (game-winning goal)
And I Quote: “It’s sweet beating Highland Park in the playoffs in any sport.” – Alan Pocock
Buzz worthy: This game marked the first overtime match for the Lions all season. Coming into its meeting with MHS, Highland Park had won its two previous games in overtime.
– Joe Arriola, TownSquareBuzz.com
*Make sure to check back tomorrow as I continue my Top 5 series with my #2 Game of the Year*
*At the conclusion of this Top 5 countdown, I will post a TownSquareBuzz Best of 2010-2011 Highlight Video*