HARKER HEIGHTS — In a match that Harker Heights controlled for 78 minutes, the Knights needed every last second to hold off visiting Temple on Friday.
But despite nearly allowing Temple to force overtime in the final two minutes, the Knights emerged with a key district win after a wild 2-1 finish at Harker Heights High School.
“We’ve got players who don’t necessarily have a great deal of experience (playing right now),” Heights head coach Ryan Flanigan said. “So, they’re getting in these situations and they’re getting a great lesson. And what a better lesson than what happened tonight.”
Heights, who is now tied for second place in District 8-5A with a district record of 4-2, saw its 2-0 lead cut in half with just over a minute to play when Jose Garcia put in a goal for the Wildcats’ first score of the game.
But Temple wasn’t done, getting a corner kick with six seconds to play after Heights received its second yellow card of the game.
The ball was played in and Temple got off two headers in the box, one of which hit the crossbar and the second of which was saved by leaping Heights goalie Luis Garcia Cosme, who tipped the ball over the crossbar to end the game.
“Definitely shouldn’t be there,” Cosme said of the ending sequence. “But we all know what to do. We take care of each other.”
Despite not playing at 100 percent, as injuries continue to take a toll on the team, the Knights (6-7-1) controlled nearly the entire game against Temple, which entered the match with just one district loss.
The Wildcats had a hard time getting clean looks at the goal, particularly when they got closer to the goal, as the Knight defense impressed early.
“That’s what we try to drill in every day, just keeping our defense first,” Cosme said. “Everything else comes after that.”
Heights went ahead early in the second half when Austin Russell scored from a tough angle to the right past a diving goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead.
“I was just working with the team,” Russell said, “and they gave me a good ball and I just placed it.”
The Knights’ second goal, and the one that proved to be the game-winner, came with 9:28 remaining in the game when the Temple goalkeeper tried to grab the ball in the box only to mishandle it, allowing Bernardo Villalpando Calzoncit to put Heights up 2-0.
“You just have to follow the ball,” Calzoncit said with a smile. “I was there, and I just kicked it.”
At the time, the insurance goal seemed hardly necessary.
But Heights needed every bit of that insurance to secure the important district win.
For Calzoncit, the wild finish just meant he had helped his team more than he originally anticipated.
“I don’t feel like the hero,” he said. “It’s just for our team — teamwork.”
Contact Jordan Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org or 254-501-7562