WACO — Gatesville lost the program’s first ever playoff match. It did not feel like a defeat to Sebastian Corrales, though.
The Hornets’ season ended Monday as Waco shut down Gatesville’s offense en route to posting a 2-0 victory at Waco ISD Stadium in the bi-district round of the Class 4A playoffs. While the loss was disappointing, Corrales, who has been a part of Gatesville’s soccer program since its inception four years ago, saw ample reason to celebrate.
“It wasn’t necessarily about the loss,” the senior said, “its how far we have come in four years. We started at the bottom, and now, we’re up here in the playoffs for the first time ever.
“I was here as a freshman, and we had losses — real bad losses. So this is nothing compared to a 13-0 loss.”
While the Lions dominated possession, producing 23 total shots, including 13 in the first half when a stiff breeze was at their backs, Gatesville had ample opportunities to get on the scoreboard in the second half.
After failing to deliver a shot on goal in the first half, the Hornets began attacking after halftime and had a good look at a potential match-tying score 15 minutes into the second half, but Abate Hennessy’s shot was denied. Waco countered immediately, going the length of the pitch and Jeffrey Reyes capitalized on Gatesville’s defensive lapse, giving the Lions a 2-0 advantage.
“Their goalie barely saved it,” Hennessy said of his shot. “He got it with the tips of his fingers. We turned around and the goalie had already thrown the ball. We didn’t have time to recover, so they got us on that one.”
Gatesville head coach Van Collins agreed with the sophomore.
“We just knew as soon as (Hennessy) shot it, it was going in,” he said. “We were about to all go crazy, but the emotions went from, ‘Yes!’ to ‘Aww, crap.’
“But I even told the guys on the bench, (Waco) put on a clinic during that counterattack.”
Despite being pelted with a barrage of shots from Waco, the Hornets (7-10-2) did not give up a goal until the 26th minute, when Jarlin Amador scored to put the Lions (21-6) ahead 1-0. Against a team as talented as Waco, which lost its only District 33-4A games to district champion and state power Waco University, Collins was extremely pleased to go into halftime trailing by one goal.
“They were sending pretty much everybody,” the coach said, “and if we had any type of counterattack at all, we might have snuck a couple in on them, but we just could not turn the ball around and get going in the other direction.”
The Hornets lose nine seniors to graduation, but Corrales believes the brief postseason experience will benefit the team next season and beyond.
“We showed improvement every year,” Corrales said. “There are some juniors this year that will step up and take the team and lead it (to the next level).”
Collins sees similar potential, but knows his players will have to dedicate themselves in order to repeat the feat next season.
“This is huge for the program,” he said. “We’ve got some young talent coming up … and these juniors coming up, they are going to be able to fill these seniors’ shoes.
“But these underclassmen are going to have to step up to continue this because these seniors mean so much to this program.”