LAMPASAS — Lightning ended Tuesday’s match.
Sparks flew at the conclusion as well.
After a thunderstorm delayed the start and lightning ultimately caused the postponement of the District 34-4A encounter between Lampasas and Gatesville less than 24 hours prior, the Hornets rallied from a one-goal deficit in the second half to produce a 3-1 victory Wednesday to secure third place in the district.
The come-from-behind victory left Gatesville head coach Van Collins struggling to describe his players’ resiliency.
“They stayed calm, and they took advantage of what (Lampasas) gave them,” he said. “I can’t be more proud. I can’t even put it into words. They know if there is a goal scored; it doesn’t matter because we are usually the better team. They didn’t put their heads down. They kept fighting and kept pressing.”
And they did so for 120 minutes.
On Tuesday, the team’s played to a 1-1 tie at halftime before lighting moved into the area. Because the second half was never started, the match was required by UIL rules to start over. Had the teams taken to the pitch for even a second following halftime, the match would have been ruled a tie and Lampasas would have earned the district’s third seed.
Nevertheless, Badgers head coach Ryan Race felt his team had ample opportunity to win the match.
“Honestly, I felt we outplayed them except for their counters,” he said. “When we put the ball on the ground and played, we had great opportunities and just didn’t convert. So, it’s frustrating.”
Following a scoreless first half, Lampasas sophomore Nick Lawson delivered a cross in front of the goal to teammate Javier Torres, who sent the ball into the net from close range to give the Badgers a 1-0 in the 43rd minute.
Then, Hornets senior Franco Vega initiated a comeback, scoring the first of his two goals five minutes later.
“I was playing pretty good, actually,” Vega said. “I just had to play with all I had.”
With 10 minutes remaining in the match, freshman Ernesto Hernandez gave Gatesville (7-8-2, 5-4) its first lead on an unassisted goal before Vega increased the Hornets’ cushion by taking a pass from Abate Hennessy and maneuvering around Lampasas’ approaching goalkeeper to get an uncontested shot.
“When you are able to get one-on-ones with a goalie and you’ve got one of the best (players) in district, hey, it’s easy to get three (goals),” Collins said of Vega, who has 10 goals on the season.
With the win the Hornets play Waco in the opening round of the playoffs, while Lampasas (4-5) faces Waco University. Times, dates and locations for both matches have yet to be determined.
While the Hornets know whom they will play in the teams first postseason appearance, Collins does not intend to overlook his regular-season finale against Salado on Friday.
“We have never beaten Salado,” Collins said. “We have not beaten them in our program’s history. We are not done. We are using Friday’s match as a springboard into the playoffs.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com