Apparently, 13 is a lucky number for the Aledo Bearcats soccer team.
Brandon Wrinkle scored a goal eight minutes into the first overtime and goalkeeper Konrad Garbowski came up with two diving saves near the end of the second overtime to give the Bearcats a 2-1 victory over the Denton Ryan Raiders in a boys’ Class 5A regional quarterfinal soccer match Friday at Northwest High School.
The win advances the Bearcats to the regional tournament in Wichita Falls. It is the first time the Bearcats have advanced to the regional semifinals since the state-finalist team in 2005.
Aledo will face El Paso Bowie at 3 p.m. Friday, April 13, at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls. The regional final is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 14. Wichita Falls Rider and El Paso Del Valle play in the other semifinal following the Aledo/Bowie match.
“I guess you could call them the Cardiac Kids,” Bearcats head coach Derek Vierling said with a huge smile moments after the match. “They don’t know how to quit. They just keep getting after it.”
Aledo was plagued by bad luck, having to go against the wind in the first and second half due to a lightning delay of more than 90 minutes. During the delay, the wind shifted in favor of the Raiders.
However, to begin the first overtime period of 10 minutes, Aledo got the wind.
With the score tied at 1-1, senior Max Owens had the ball near the end line, dribbled toward the Ryan goal and slipped a pass in the middle that was deflected to Wrinkle, who fired a shot past the Ryan goalkeeper from just outside the goal box to give the ‘Cats a 2-1 lead.
In the second OT, Ryan had the 25-35 miles-per-hour wind at its back, but Aledo did a good job of keeping play away from the Raiders. But with 1:37 left in the second OT, Garbowski came up with a diving save of a hard, low shot from 15 yards.
Ryan kept the pressure on in its offensive end, and with 1:13 remaining Garbowski came up with another save which would be Ryan’s last chance to tie the match.
Aledo kept the ball for the final minute to secure the win and a trip to Wichita Falls.
“We could not have had worse conditions, going into the wind in both (regulation) halves,” Vierling said. “Are you kidding me? Both halves we go against the wind (because of the weather delay). I thought we had all the momentum in the world (ahead 1-0) and then the delay. Ryan is a good team – they only have three losses – and it was a fun game.
“Konrad is a great goalkeeper and a great kid, and he makes play after play after play. But really, all of these kids – all 27 of them – make plays. This was a very fun win.”
The Bearcats took a 1-0 lead when Owens, on a corner kick, lofted the ball in front of the Ryan goal, where Simon Shulz elevated and with a header sent the ball to the back of the net with 16:35 left in the first half.
The weather delay came with 9:26 left in the opening half.
Ryan scored on a short shot with 3:55 left to play in the first half to tie the score, 1-1, where it remained at the half.
There was no scoring in the second half.