HARKER HEIGHTS — The Harker Heights boys soccer team was five minutes and nine seconds away from the postseason Friday.
Yet at the end of regulation, the Knights found themselves heading to overtime rather than celebrating after Logan Hickey tied the game in the 75th minute.
Two overtime periods and two Leo Peralta goals later, the Knights’ season was over as a 3-1 win by district champ Waco Midway caused Heights to drop from the fourth and final playoff spot in District 8-5A.
“It was gutted,” Heights head coach Ryan Flanigan said. “It was sad. We thought we had it.”
After its victory, Midway ran to the bleachers where it was greeted by a mob of screaming Midway fans — and the Ellison soccer team.
The Eagles, who trailed Heights by a point in the district standings entering the night, claimed the final playoff spot with the Knights’ loss and were there cheering on Midway the entire second half and overtimes.
“That’s something we didn’t expect,” Peralta said with a smile, “another team cheering for us. That was pretty cool.”
Heights, which hadn’t dropped points
at home all season, didn’t give Ellison anything to cheer about most of the night as the Knights took a 1-0 lead on an Irvin Barco goal in the 15th minute and dominated the first half with the wind.
But Midway began getting opportunities of its own with the wind in the second half and Hickey, who saw his header saved barely a minute earlier, finally hit pay dirt when he played a ball on a bounce and put in the tying goal with just 5:09 remaining in regulation.
“They had the wind at their back and the ball took a big bounce and they had guys running through,” Flanigan said. “And we couldn’t handle it.
The game eventually went to overtime and, after a scoreless first overtime, Peralta finally broke the tie with a shot that deflected off the hand of the keeper for a 2-1 lead with 5:21 to play in the second overtime.
Peralta later iced the game with a strike from just outside the penalty box that put Midway up 3-1.
Peralta, one of the Panthers’ captains, credited the team with the late rally.
“We decided to keep calm in overtime because we were excited about the goal we made in regulation,” he said. “And we always play as a team, and that’s what keeps us going.”
Heights, meanwhile, saw a roller coaster season end Friday as the Knights were decimated by injuries heading into district play but nearly rallied to make the playoffs.
Flanigan said his seniors, who played their final game in a Heights uniform, had nothing to be ashamed of and, afterwards, told them he was proud of his team.
“We had so many things go wrong and our world never crumbled,” Flanigan said. “I think that these boys are strong and outstanding citizens, and when I grow up I want to be like them.”