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SS soccer team ties home opener

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    Sulphur Springs soccer coach Andy Holt would rather not have to use teachable moments in the closing minutes of a close soccer match, but that’s what he had to resort to Tuesday night following a 1-1 tie with the Pittsburg Pirates.

    The Wildcats held a 1-0 advantage through most of the second half before allowing a Pittsburg goal with just 73 seconds remaining in the contest on a 37-degree, windless night. The goal came after a misplay by the SSHS defense allowed Pittsburg to have a breakaway goal.
     “That’s what I said to them after the game,” Holt said. “We have to learn from it, and if we don’t learn from it, then history will repeat itself. Hopefully, we will learn from it and grow and when it matters, we won’t make those same mistakes again.”
    The games will really start mattering in a little more than two weeks when District 19-4A play begins. The Wildcats, with a record of 1-4-4, are getting better despite Tuesday’s disappointing outcome, Holt said.
    “I thought we played pretty well tonight, better than we have the previous eight games,” he explained. “I thought we tried to move the ball and create some opportunities, and we did that much better in the second half.”
    Junior Josh Foster gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead at the 30:39 mark of the second half when he controlled a loose ball about 15 yards out on the left wing and sent a shot that deflected off the Pittsburg keeper and rolled into the right corner of the goal before the keeper could recover.
    It looked as if the Wildcats would increase their advantage to 2-0 with just under 30 minutes left when Brian DeLa Rosa powered a 10-yard shot over the goalie, but the Cats were whistled for an offside violation and the goal was disallowed.
    It appeared that Sulphur Springs goalie Moises Torres had saved the game for the Wildcats with 4:17 to play when he smothered a shot by Pittsburg from 15 yards out.
    But, with 1:13 to play, the Wildcats lost the ball near midfield and Pittsburg turned it into the tying goal on a 20-yard shot.
    The Wildcats have to make up for losing the leading scorer in the program’s history – Tony Bravo who graduated last year – but Holt said it is the defense, not the offense, that needs to round into shape.
     “Right now, we’ve scored goals in every game but two,” said the defensive-minded coach. “We’ve got to allow one goal to hold up. Defensively right now, we’re not playing well enough to keep them from scoring. We’re giving up at least one goal per game right now. It’s not just the defenders, it’s the midfielders that have to help us control it and not lose it in bad situations, which is exactly what happened at the end.”
    Even after giving up the tying goal, the Wildcats had one final chance to win the match when DeLa Rosa got behind the defense and fired a shot from 12 yard out with 30 seconds to play, but the keeper was able to make a kick save to preserve the tie.
    The first half ended in a scoreless tie with neither team putting undue pressure on the other’s defense.
      The Wildcats took three shots on goal in the first half, with senior Josue Roque taking two of the shots – a deflected slow roller eight minutes into the game and a header that was deflected over the goal following a throw-in by senior Ryan Watson.
    The other first half shot was taken by freshman Brian Roque on a 30-yard chance that was saved by the Pittsburg keeper.
     Meanwhile, the Sulphur Springs’ defensive back line of juniors Daniel Santana, Samuel Gallegos and Juan Gomez didn’t allow the Pirates to have a legitimate scoring chance until less than 10 minutes remained in the half. SSHS goalie Torres came off his line to the top of the 18-yard box to stop a Pittsburg offensive with a sliding kick with 19 minutes to play.
    “We need to find a way to rise up and make plays,” Holt said, “and tonight we just didn’t make the plays necessary to win the game.”
    The Wildcats will be back in action at Prim Stadium on Friday when they host Royse City. The JV game starts at 5:30 p.m., with the varsity set for 7:15.




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