JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — Inches separated a feeling of elation from misery.
The Marble Falls High School boys soccer team trailed Leander 1-0 throughout most of the District 51-4A contest March 4.
But in the final 40 seconds, the Mustangs (11-6-1 overall, 4-4 district) had a corner kick, and it appeared junior Jimmy Fermin kicked the ball off a ricochet past the plane of the cross bar before the Lions goalie could scoop it up.
Instead, the official, who was standing parallel to the net and was bent at the knees to get a look, indicated the goalie stopped the ball in time. Even when Marble Falls protested, he lifted his left hand with his index finger in the No. 1 position and moved it left to right to say there was no goal.
That allowed the Lions to escape with the victory.
“(The ball) has to go completely across,” Marble Falls head coach Rick Hoover said. “Imagine there’s water running down from the cross bar. It has to be completely through to the other side.
“I thought it was a goal,” he added. “It was right where it needed to be.”
Meanwhile, the Mustangs’ playoff hopes are still alive thanks to ties in two other district contests that night.
Leander Vandegrift and Cedar Park played to a 1-1 deadlock, while Leander Rouse and Cedar Park Vista Ridge finished with a 2-2 tie.
If Marble Falls can beat or tie Vista Ridge on the road March 7, the Mustangs will advance to the playoffs.
The majority of the contest March 4 was played on the Leander side of the field. The Lions were content to protect a single-goal victory, choosing instead to clear balls or kick them over the heads of the players to the other side.
But, the Mustangs kept pressing. They chased down balls all over the field, making passes and crossing passes with the intention of getting the equalizer.
It nearly happened in the final three minutes. But the ball went too far to the right when the Lions were out of defensive position.
On a separate corner kick, the Leander goalie hid behind a defender and waited until the ball was kicked. He then appeared out of nowhere to make a leaping catch.
“We peppered the goal,” Hoover said. “We have to give props where it’s due. Their goalie made some incredible saves.”
And for those reasons, the coach said the game didn’t hinge on the final 40 seconds.
“It shouldn’t have come down to that (last attempt),” he said. “We played very well. We out-possessed them, we outplayed them. They had one shot on goal.”
Leander scored the game-winning goal in the opening 20 minutes of play from about 25 yards out. After that, the Lions spread their defense and used their speed to ensure the Mustangs couldn’t get a clear shot at the goal.
“I’m not exaggerating,” Hoover said. “The only shot they made = was the only shot they took. He hit it in the perfect spot. We couldn’t make the save. That’s all they needed.”
RECORDS: Marble Falls is 11-6-1 overall and 4-4 in District 51-4A.
UP NEXT: 7 p.m. March 7, Marble Falls at Cedar Park Vista Ridge, 200 S. Vista Ridge Blvd. Cedar Park
Leander 6, Marble Falls girls 2
LEANDER — The Marble Falls High School girls soccer team lost 6-2 to Leander in a District 51-4A match March 4.
The Lady Mustangs (7-7-5 overall, 1-7 district) took an early 1-0 lead but couldn’t sustain it.
They close out the 2014 season in a home game against Cedar Park Vista Ridge on March 7.
ON OFFENSE: goals – Britney Deering, Macy Hoover; assists – Hoover
RECORDS: Marble Falls is 7-7-5 and 1-7 in District 51-4A.
UP NEXT: 7 p.m. March 7, Marble Falls vs. Cedar Park Vista Rdige at Mustang Stadium, 2101 Mustang Drive in Marble Falls