The first day of the Killeen ISD Winter Soccer Showcase had split results among the local schools at Leo Buckley Stadium on Thursday.
Ellison kicked off the tournament by dropping an early game against Dripping Springs 6-0.
Copperas Cove faced Brownwood in the afternoon as strong winds rolled into the stadium, and both teams struggled with adjusting to the added challenge.
The Bulldawgs and the Lions went back and forth before each scoring a goal in the first half. It appeared the game would end in a draw until Copperas Cove’s Tristan Reno shot a ball past goalkeeper Brownwood goalkeeper Caleb Woodcock.
Reno attempted several more shots to try and extend Copperas Cove’s lead, but the victory was secured when Brownwood’s Pablo Palacios tried to score after drawing the goalie out of the net in 76th minute. The ball caught too much air and carried far over the net, and the Bulldawgs won 2-1.
“You never live and die off the long ball because all of a sudden in windy conditions like this you can’t kick the ball far,” Copperas Cove head coach Trent Deans said.
Deans has been working with his team to be prepared to play in all conditions.
“I told them, ‘You’re going to work hard on having the long ball and the short ball and be able to have a multidimensional offense so that we can deal with all that comes from these windy conditions,’” he said.
As the wind grew stronger, Harker Heights faced Waco University Purple team comprised mostly of their varsity team.
Harker Heights ended last year’s season being eliminated in the second round of the playoffs. This year, the Knights have a new leader in head coach Chris Padilla.
“In the first half,” he said, “we had to weather the storm. Wind was obviously a huge factor in the game.”
Carlos Ruiz stopped four attempts by the Trojans to keep the score 0-0 after the first 40 minutes.
The second half saw two yellow cards for the Knights and when it looked as though the game would end in a draw, senior George Santos kicked one in from about 40 yards out in the 79th minute to give Harker Heights a 1-0 victory.
Padilla’s team is made up of seniors but overall is a mixed group of experienced and new-to-varsity players, and he hopes to see their chemistry continue to grow throughout the showcase.
“We want to build momentum so that everyone on this team is in a good place once we kick things off in a couple weeks and just continue to grow as a group,” he said.
The wind did not let up as Killeen played Austin Achieve late in the afternoon, but that didn’t stop the Polar Bears from getting on the board with a long kick from Gustavo Gutierrez, who delivered the ball into the top, right corner of the net and just out of reach of the goalie.
Achieve held the lead at halftime, and while the Kangaroos attempted to score multiple times throughout the second half, the wind kept carrying the shots high above the net.
The second day of the showcase has Shoemaker and Ellison playing in the morning while Copperas Cove, Killeen and Harker Heights will each play in the afternoon.
The five area schools will not compete against one another.