BY STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
GIDDINGS — Twenty seconds into a Class 5A area-round boys soccer playoff game March 31, the tone was set. Richmond Foster (15-3-3) took a 1-0 lead against the Marble Falls High School Mustangs (18-2-6) that led to a 2-0 victory.
“The first 30 seconds we came out flat,” Mustangs head coach Rick Hoover said. “That’s part of the game. He had an opportunity, and he took it. You have to tip your hat.”
The opening goal was about 40 yards away and split the defense. The score could have been worse, but senior Marble Falls goalie Armando Rodriguez had a handful of key saves, especially as the Falcons had four corner kicks and three free kicks to the Mustangs’ one corner kick in the first half.
“He played the game of his life,” Hoover said about Rodriguez. “He was phenomenal.”
Marble Falls’ best chance to tie the game came at under four minutes left in the half, but the shooter, who was on the left side of the goal, sent the ball too far to the right.
With 31 minutes left in the game, a pass was sent to the left of the goal to an open Mustang who needed to tap the ball into the left corner for the score, but the ball went wide left.
A Foster corner kick with 27:43 remaining in the contest gave the Falcons all the goals they needed.
It looked like the Mustangs would score with nine minutes left. The Foster goalie ricocheted the ball then fell on it as the Mustang shooter kept trying to kick the ball through his hands.
Despite the loss, Hoover said, the outcome of this contest doesn’t take away all the accomplishments from the season. He called this team the best in program history.
“In every position we have, I feel like when we rolled onto the field, I think we were better than all the other teams in all the positions,” he said.
Marble Falls will lose four seniors, and this season has allowed the Mustangs to give valuable experience to those returning, Hoover said.
He commended his seniors, especially Gavino Tinajera and Anthony Manchuca, who are four-year lettermen and played in their fifth playoff game.
“They have brought a lot of stability, experience, and leadership to the program,” the coach said. “This team has heart and character that’s second to none. They never gave up, practiced hard, and did all the little things right. I’m so proud of them for everything they’ve been able to do.”