Friday night’s boys soccer loss to Mineral Wells was obviously painful for coach Taylor Smith’s Yellow Jackets.
Not only did the Rams capture the District 6-4A championship on Stephenville’s home Lem Brock Field, but they did it on penalty kicks in a shootout.
The game was tied at 2-2 at the end of regulation, but the Rams outscored the Yellow Jackets 4-2 in penalty kicks. It marked the second time the Jackets lost to the Rams, following their 3-2 road loss on Feb. 26. SHS defeated Mineral Wells in the first of the three district matchups, 6-1 at home on Feb. 15.
The Jackets are now 3-2 in district and 13-8-4 overall. The Rams are 4-1 in district and 12-7-2 overall. Brownwood, which will still make the playoffs despite being on the bottom rung in the district, is 0-4 in league play and 1-11-1 on the season.
Smith reminded his playoff-bound players that winning the district crown wasn’t their ultimate goal.
“We have a goal, and it’s never been to win district,” said Smith, whose squad is ranked 22nd in the state in Class 4A according to the MaxPreps online poll. “Our goal is to work out the kinks and to stay focused and not lose our focus.”
Smith said he felt that his team may have been a little over-confident to start the game.
“We had some small mental lapses,” Smith said. “We were over-confident. We outplayed them in the first half.”
Friday was Senior Night for Stephenville, with the 10 senior Yellow Jackets’ players being honored on the field before the start of the game, along with their parents.
The 10 SHS senior players for 2019 are Adrian Meza, Christian Brown, Ethan Nehring, Isidro Manzano, Angel Luna, Luis Carrillo, Kevin Martinez, Andres Perez, Gerardo Campos and Alfredo Rocha.
A goal by Jorge Gallegos gave the Jackets a 1-0 lead with about 10 minutes left in the first half. The second SHS goal, by J.J. Saldana, put them up 2-0 by the 25-minute mark in the second half.
The Rams cut it to 2-1 with 19:08 left in the second half, and tied it at the 4:59 mark on a penalty kick.
While Mineral Wells was poking in its four goals in the shootout, Luis Carrillo and Saldana made the two for SHS.
SHS senior Kevin Martinez said the loss will inspire the Yellow Jackets to elevate their level of play in the playoffs — maybe even to win the school’s first-ever boys soccer state title.
“This will definitely inspire us to do better in the playoffs, and make it farther than any team before,” Martinez said. “We played really well in the first half. In the second half it died down because of all the energy we spent (earlier in the game). We had a mental collapse, and that’s how they beat us.”
The Yellow Jackets will be idle until Friday, March 22, when they will close out district play and the regular-season schedule at Brownwood (varsity at 7 p.m.).
As the second-place team in the district because of their two previous wins over Brownwood, the Jackets will open the playoffs (bi-district) against the third-place team out of District 5-4A, either Burkburnett or Graham.