JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — Marble Falls High School boys soccer coach Rick Hoover thought the winner of the Mustangs’ playoff game against Leander Rouse on April 3 would advance to the state tournament, even if the victor still needed to win three more matches.
And though the Mustangs (14-9-3 overall and 4-4-2 in District 51-4A) lost 2-1 in double overtime, the game lived up to what Hoover expected.
“There’s a chance this was the state championship,” he said. “I thought that whoever won this game has a chance to go far. (Rouse) is a great team. They’ve got kids who can play.
“At a high level of soccer like this, that was two classic heavyweights duking it out,” he added. “They have to withstand our punches; we have to absorb theirs. This almost went to penalty kicks. It could have gone either way. We have to learn from this, which we will.”
Marble Falls struck first when junior forward Jessy Arreguin found the back of the net on the right side thanks to a ricochet ball with 26 minutes 19 seconds left in the first half. Senior midfielder Asir Riojas was credited with the assist.
“You create your own luck by working hard,” Hoover said. “It might look like luck to the naked eye, but that doesn’t happen by accident. That happens by reading the game and working hard.”
The entire contest was physical with plenty of hand checking, bumping and very few uncontested passes and shots on goal.
The Raiders evened the match by scoring a goal from 20 yards out eight minutes into the second half. Mustang goalie Carlos Campos jumped to knock away the ball, but it was a bit too high. The ball bounced straight up and hit the cross bar on the bottom center before rolling in.
“Their first goal was more of a mistake on our side,” Hoover said. “We left a guy unmarked. The ball fell perfectly to him. Against a good team, you can’t do that.”
Rain forced a 20-minute delay with less than three minutes left in the first overtime. Then Rouse scored the winning goal on a cross, shooting the ball from right to left into the corner.
“They had an opportunity,” Hoover said.
One of the highlights of the season, Hoover said, was jogging onto the turf of Mustang Stadium and seeing hundreds of fans in the stands for the match.
“When we started (the season), we didn’t have a crowd like this,” he said. “The kids can’t go to stores without feeling like celebrities. That’s what made it special. I’m proud of the community. Everybody was so supportive, and that makes a difference.”
Though the season ended earlier than the Mustangs wanted, the coach said 2015 has a bright outlook.
“We have a lot of kids coming back, and we started a program at the middle school,” he said. “There’s nothing but positives for the future of this program. It’s a new era – that’s the best way to phrase it. Soccer is coming of age in this town, it’s been needing to. (Former head coach Michael) Nave took it a long way. I was at the right place at the right time. These boys have a lot of heart. I’m just glowing with pride to have done something special, and this town has embraced it.”