Late rally gives Tigers 2-1 win
Wednesday, 13 March 2013 by Tony Adams
For 54 minutes, the Belton Tigers' boys soccer team was searching for answers. Unfortunately for the Harker Heights Knights, the Tigers found the answers they needed to emerge victorious.
Keegan Valentino and Angel Hernandez scored 14:06 apart to give the Tigers a 2-1 win over the scrappy Knights at Wilson Kerzee Field Tuesday night.
Belton's initial shot on goal in the first half was their best scoring opportunity of the half. Cesar Cruz launched a blistering kick off the woodwork just over the outstretched arms of Heights goalie Austin Sisler at 33:10. The rebound off the crossbar rebounded 20 yards back into the field of play and sparked a Knights rush up the field. Ethan Rhoden headed a setup pass just past the goal and a diving Carlo Mosnia at 25:05, setting up a Belton goal kick. Mosnia came up with a pair of saves at the 22:47 and 19:19 marks. Cruz took a 25-yard shot on goal with 15:45 remaining, which Sisler made an easy save on. Hernandez point-blank shot at the top of the goal box was saved by Sisler at 14:38. Both teams passed the ball around midfield for the next four minutes until Hernandez was yellow carded for a hard tackle inside the center circle at 10:40. Harker Heights best chance came at 10:20, when Tristan Huber headed a setup pass over the crossbar. 45 seconds following that chance, scary collision between Bernardo Villalpando and Erik Rodriguez sent both players to the bench. Neither team made significant scoring threats in the final 10 minutes of the half, sending both teams to the break scoreless.
Hernandez took the second half kickoff and worked his way in for a solid 12-yard shot opportunity, but sailed it wide left. Heights took the goal kick down the field and centered a pass into the Belton goal box, but was expertly headed away by Cody Bartek at the 38:58 mark. The Tigers worked the ball down into the Knights end and set up Hernandez for a pair of scoring chances at 37:50 and 37:40, both knocked away by Sisler. Heights turned up the offensive pressure and over the next three minutes took five shots on the Belton goal. The fifth shot, off the boot of Jordan Foster, managed to get by a diving Mosnia at the front of the goal box, giving Heights a 1-0 advantage with 32:12 remaining. The goal shook the Tigers to their foundation and it only took the Tigers seven minutes to drive home the equalizer, as Corey Entrop set up Valentino to knot up the match at 1-1 with 25:26 remaining.
The Tigers continued to press the tempo in the offense zone, as Nick Amato let fly a scorching 15-yard blast from a short-side angle. Sisler knocked the shot away and set up a Chris Perez rush towards the Belton goal. Perez found Rhoden in the box, but Mosnia dove and knocked the shot away, setting up a corner kick with 22:51 to play. After Heights failed to convert the corner kick, the Tigers worked their way back down the field. Valentino set up Amato point-blank in front of the net, but was taken down without a foul call at 20:48. Huber was awarded a free kick from 35 yards out and rocketed the ball over the crossbar, setting the Tigers up for another rush off a goal kick. Both teams traded possession until Ryan Parker set Hernandez for the go-ahead goal at 11:20 on a header to give Belton their first lead of the night at 2-1.
Neither team had serious opportunities in the final eleven minutes, as Heights attempted low percentage shots that were easily steered away by Mosnia.
The Tigers will take on Killeen Ellison on Friday. Heights will host Killeen.