MIDLOTHIAN — Once again, the Belton Tigers believed they would overcome a deficit and find a way to win, just like they had numerous times this season.
McKinney had other plans, though.
With Belton trailing 2-1 in the final minute of overtime, Edgar Soto scored from in front of the 6-yard box past McKinney goalkeeper Kadin Madrano to tie the game and force penalty kicks. McKinney converted on all four of its kicks, while the Tigers missed two of three attempts, finalizing the Lion’s 4-1 win in a Class 6A area-round boys soccer game Tuesday night at Don Floyd Field.
Alberto Gutierrez, Ryan Watson and Micah Ardila gave McKinney a 3-1 lead in the shootout, after Isaac Martinez’s shot was saved by Madrano, and Camryn Gilmore converted for Belton.
After Mark Diaz failed to convert for the Tigers, Ethan Orozco put the final attempt past Belton keeper Ryder Evans to send the Lions into the regional quarterfinals.
“Our thinking was that if we could get them to PKs, we could win it. We were very confident,” Belton second-year head coach Ben Bralley said. “Our guys hit two great balls and their keeper made some great saves. (Evans) came up close on two, but they just got the better end of the deal today.”
In the only loss of the season for Belton (21-1-2), Gilmore broke a scoreless tie in the 55th minute with a header, only to have Watson provide the equalizer 2 minutes later. Neither team found the back of the net again until overtime.
Ardila moved McKinney ahead 2-1 when he scored on a 32-yard free kick that found the top right corner 5 minutes into overtime. McKinney seemed content to defend over the final minutes of overtime before Soto’s goal from close range.
“At that point, we were determined to get as many shots on goal as we could and hope we could get a rebound or that something would happen,” Soto said. “We work a lot on penalties and we’ve gotten good at them. It just didn’t work out today.”
Friday night marked the first time McKinney (16-5-2) had gone to penalty kicks this season because District 9-6A uses outright ties, not penalty kicks. Converting on the overtime goal and scoring in penalties was redeeming fo rArdila , who missed a penalty kick in the first half that would have given the Lions an early lead.
“Walking up to that free kick, all I was thinking about was getting redemption,” Ardila said. “I kept thinking about that missed penalty. I kept apologizing to my teammates at halftime and told them, ‘I’ll make up for it. I’ll have a hat trick this second half.’”
The teams were evenly matched. McKinney produced one additional shot on goal (8-7), but Belton finished with seven corner kicks compared to the Lions’ five.
“That was definitely one of the top three most dramatic games I’ve ever been a part of,” McKinney 27th-year head coach Alan Pocock said. “We recovered to tie the game, then went ahead in overtime, but then only to have the disappointment of not closing out that last minute. I was worried going into that shootout. Belton’s not undefeated for nothing and they had the experience of shootouts. But having to go into shootouts after giving up a late goal like that, I won’t forget that for a long time.”