GEORGETOWN – Hundreds of Sharyland soccer fans made the trip to Georgetown to support their team in the school’s debut appearance at state. This became the trip of a lifetime as they witnessed the most electrifying match of the state tournament as two evenly matched teams battled back and forth for the victors’ crown.
Coming into the state tournament Katy Morton Ranch had not been scored on in any of the five playoff matches. Omar Acosta led the Mavericks in a decisive 4-1 win over the Westlake Chaparrals in the state semifinal, scoring three goals and assisting on another. Meanwhile, Jesus Olivares ensured a Rattler semifinal 3-1 victory over Mansfield on the strength of his superior ball handling skills and two scores, backed by an aggressive defense that refused to back down against a very physical Tigers team.
Both teams showed great speed, excellent ball handling and great defense during the boys 5A winner-take-all championship match Saturday.
After the Rattlers took an early lead when Daniel Garcia charged the goal with a shot to left of the keeper in the 12th minute, Acosta came back to tie it up six minutes later – just seconds after Maverick Jason Aiken was yellow carded for kicking Rattler star freshman keeper Jorge Medina in the head.
The Mavericks took the lead when Morton Ranch senior forward Acosta scored his second goal with 4:42 remaining in the first period. The mood was somber on the Rattler side of the field as fans watched their team go into halftime trailing 2-1.
Explaining how Sharyland was able to come from behind and win the state championship, Rattler Head Coach Reveriano Hernandez said after the game, “The boys played with a lot of heart; they never gave up.”
After returning to Mission, Coach Hernandez said, “It tells me that they have a lot of heart. That’s what kept us alive all the time, a lot of heart and a lot of will. They knew what they wanted and they knew what they had to do to do it.”
A big part of that heart came from Sharyland’s Olivares (#19), the game’s MVP, who scored the tying goal with just 4:56 remaining in regulation play, sending the game into overtime. Olivares also tied the score during the shootout. He and his teammates played aggressively throughout the match, constantly fighting for possession of the ball against a well-matched opponent. They just would not give up.
After two 10-minute periods of overtime play, the score remained tied, 2-2, sending the opponents to a shootout to determine the state championship.
Sharyland immediately fell behind 2-0 in the shootout as Katy’s first two shooters scored, getting the ball past the Rattler keeper. After the second Maverick scored, the Rattlers’ situation looked grim once again as just one more goal by any of the next three Mavericks could seal the win.
After Shary freshman goalkeeper Medina successfully blocked the fourth Maverick shot, Adrian Mejia, the fourth Rattler shooter, stepped up and scored, breathing life into the Sharyland team. The fifth Morton Ranch shooter’s kick was wide right, giving Olivares the opportunity to tie it up 2-2.
When goalkeeper Medina made an amazing save, blocking the sixth Maverick kick, Sharyland finally had their chance in the thriller shootout to win it all. Sophomore Amaury Lozano (#18) seized the opportunity and punched the ball into the net, winning the shootout and the state championship, as the crowd erupted in a jubilant roar.
Right after the game, Adrian Mejia, the first Rattler to score during the shootout said, “It feels awesome to win the state championship. It was a hard fought game. They gave us a battle out there, but we never gave up and we came out with the win. It feels awesome.”
Sharyland Athletic Director Richard Thompson said, “When you see a group of kids come out and perform to best of their abilities every game and they’re successful. And they truly believe whoever they play they’re gonna beat. You don’t see that very often.”
Later, when he was asked if it had sunk in with the boys that they are now state champions, Coach Hernandez said, “It hasn’t hit them. They’re just happy that they won a game. They made history. This is a first in Sharyland history.”
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.