With his team staring overtime in the face, after it was two minutes away from victory, Harker Heights head coach Ryan Flanigan calmly delivered his team a simple message.
“Forget about it,” Flanigan said. “You’ve got to get a result. Fight through it. If you play sports you have to have a short memory.”
It may not have been the exact result Heights wanted, but the Knights got a result that helped them Saturday, defeating Killeen 2-1 in a shootout at Leo Buckley Stadium.
The match will count as a tie in the teams’ records, but Heights (7-8-3, 5-3-2 8-5A) — which now sits in fourth place in District 8-5A — will get two points as opposed to one after winning the shootout on Devran Perkins’ goal.
“It’s kind of like we’re 6-4,” Flanigan said. “So, we’re still in the driver’s seat. We control our own destiny. We have to take care of business.”
Heights and Killeen (4-11-2, 2-7-1) went more than an hour of game time without a goal before the Knights’ Irvin Barco finally netted the first score in the 72nd minute.
After receiving a pass from senior Austin Roden, Barco raced down the right side before stopping on a dime, crossing over to his left and firing in the Knights’ lone regulation goal off his left foot.
“I was just on the right,” Barco said. “And my position, I’m left-footed, so I have to cut in to the left to take a shot.”
Heights seemed headed for an important regulation victory before a controversial free kick with two minutes to play changed that.
On a free kick from deep in the middle of the field, the Kangaroos’ Alex Gilland sent a shot screaming toward Heights keeper Luis Garcia Cosme. Cosme attempted to catch the shot but dropped it and fell on it to secure the save.
Only the official ruled the ball had crossed the line, giving Killeen a goal and knotting the score at one.
“(I saw) just the ball coming at me with the wind, so it had pretty good pace,” Cosme said. “It happens.”
Neither team was able to score in the final two minutes, sending what once seemed a certain victory for Heights into overtime.
“I’m very proud of the way they kept fighting,” Killeen coach Aaron Bragewitz said of his team. “They got to eight minutes left and I told the guys, ‘hey, keep your head up, keep your head up and they’ll come.’ So, we got a break and it dropped in the net.”
Neither team was able to score in the first or second overtime despite Heights coming close on a Barco shot that floated over the keeper but off the crossbar in the first overtime.
In the shootout, even the first five players weren’t able to determine a winner as Killeen goalkeeper Bernard Moreno saved two shots and scored on his kick.
But Perkins scored the eventual game-winner on Heights’ second shot of five kickers. The next Killeen shooter missed wide left to end the game.
After the intense shootout, Cosme said he felt a twinge of relief when he saw the final shot go wide left.
“It felt pretty good,” he said. “We need the results.
“That’s what we’re looking for and that’s the bigger picture, so that’s what we’re worried about.”
Heights now heads into a rematch with Ellison sitting in fourth place in the district and in control of its playoff destiny.
And after the Eagles took the first meeting, Heights has no shortage of motivation heading into the rematch.
“We’re hungry,” Cosme said. “We’re going to come there, and we’re going to play our game.”