TEMPLE — In a span of 40 seconds Tuesday night, Temple found itself in a dogfight for one of District 8-5A’s two remaining playoff bids.
With both teams needing a victory to clinch a spot in the postseason, the Wildcats watched a 1-0 halftime lead disappear when Harker Heights got the equalizer 38 seconds into the second half.
Temple didn’t fold and scored four goals in the second half, including two penalty kicks by Ryan Snow that completed a hat trick, to pull away for a 5-1 victory at Woodson Field and clinch at least a third-place finish in the district.
The physicality ratcheted up in the second half as both teams tried to ensure a playoff berth.
“We certainly didn’t back down from them,” Temple head coach Matt Corley said.
“We’re in the weight room multiple times during every week and the weekends. That’s why we’re in there, so we can deal with these types of games. We’re going to see physical teams in the playoffs.”
The Knights (8-9-4, 6-4-3) tied the game with 39:32 left in the second half when a Dimitri Gianopulos shot sailed past the outstretched hand of Temple goalie Brett Wilson.
However, the deadlock was short-lived as Snow was fouled in the penalty box while going in for a shot. He kept his penalty kick low and drove it past Harker Heights goalie Luis Garcia Cosme to give the Wildcats (12-8, 9-4) a 2-1 advantage with 34:13 remaining.
Snow had staked Temple to a 1-0 lead when Cruz Martinez made a run at the goal, pulling Cosme well forward of the net. Martinez’s shot was deflected out to Snow, who scored on an empty net with 18:46 left in the first half.
Before Snow completed his hat trick with a second penalty kick with 15:22 remaining, Andres Martinez added to Temple’s lead with 22:30 left.
Matt Eaton rounded out the scoring and made it 5-1 with a Seville
Harris-assisted goal with 9:32 remaining in the match.
Harker Heights coach Ryan Flanigan said the Knights needed to do a better job of avoiding bad situations to keep the game under control.
“We’re not here to call the game,” Flanigan said. “The referees did a good job and we have to react to the situations that we’re given. We have to
prevent ourselves from getting in those situations. If the ball isn’t down
there, then we’re not thinking their offsides. If the ball isn’t in our
box, we’re not giving them a PK.”
Temple finishes the regular season at home against Copperas Cove on