ROUND ROCK (October 17, 2018) — One might call Kingsville Presbyterian Pan American School the Kentucky of TAPPS Fall Soccer.
By advancing to today’s state semifinal, the Eagles snapped the tie they held with Houston’s Awty International School by making it to their 17th Final Four.
Five state titles. More than any other school in TAPPS.
Runners-up the last two years.
But none of that seemed to matter, though, to Round Rock Concordia High School here at the city-owned Round Rock Multipurpose Complex.
Except last year’s 1-0 loss to Pan American in the regional match.
Less than six minutes in to the second half (45:50) of a scoreless contest, senior James Jolly took sophomore Ryan Pinto’s diagonal ball and planted that memory into the right side of the net – by Pan American keeper Jaewong “Jack” Lee – to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead that would stand to send Concordia to its first Fall Soccer state title game in school history.
“It was a great counter attack goal that started in our third,” said Concordia head coach Jared Jolly. “We got the ball up to one of my center midfielders and he played it to our winger.
“James was composed, was able to get around the one defender, opened his hips and slotted it into the side of the net.”
After controlling the ball for the first ten minutes of the match, Kingsville Presbyterian Pan American tested freshman keeper Jake Sellers much of the remainder of the first half.
And plenty of that testing came primarily from sophomore Nahum Nieto and senior Omar Ortiz.
Hence the adjustments at halftime.
“This team (Kingsville) is great. They are better than us probably overall,” said Jolly. “So we played a counter attack style where we play compact. We tried to get on the counter attack and it worked like perfection.”
It was something that didn’t catch Presbyterian Pan American head coach Juan Plascencia completely by surprise, though.
“We know that they have fast players. We were expecting that,” he said. “We were trying to control. We controlled six or seven times but they managed to score one.”
The Eagles nearly got on the board in the 23rd minute when Ortiz juked and froze senior defender Braeden Richter near the left of the Cardinal goal, but a concerted Round Rock team effort kept the ball from going in.
“We realized – it was pretty obvious – that Ortiz on their team was fantastic,” Jolly said. “He was the guy they were looking for on every opportunity.
“He’s a great player. Big, strong, fast, can shoot, great with the skill. So (in the second half) we basically played him man on man and had a guy follow him.
“When we could, we would double team him.”
After Kingsville Presbyterian Pan American responded with three minutes of relentless attack immediately after Concordia’s goal, the Cardinals were able to begin to neutralize Ortiz.
“Many times we had two players – he was good enough – guard him,” Jolly elaborated. “So that kept them more under control.
Junior defender Samuel Murdy was given the task of being Ortiz’s shadow by Jolly.
“I told Murdy ‘He’s your guy, man on man, don’t even go to the ball’,” Jolly shared. “That got them frustrated; when you have somebody always on you that’s aggressive, you start getting outside of your game.
“On any dead ball, throw in, or corner kick, we had two people on him — one in front and one behind to bracket him.
“And without him, they just didn’t have the potent offense they were used to being able to get him loose.”
Defensively, Richter also got great support from fellow senior Jacob Hutton.
Concordia will take a perfect 13-0 mark into Thursday’s state championship match with Nacogdoches Regents Academy.
And Jolly’s senior class has led the way.
“We have a great senior class of six. Four of them are all-district. A couple of them all-state for sure,” he said. “And a couple will for sure by Lutheran High School All-American.
“They’ve just gotten better, more composed, had more experience and tactically we’re a little bit more organized.
“My starting 11 — 11 all the way up to my best player — is a little bit better than it was last year.”
Yet Jolly knows that they played a bit like Loyola of Chicago against a more than worthy opponent.
“Kingsville Pan American. Awesome. They’ve been here 17 times,” he said. “My hats off to them. They’re an amazing club. They fought, yet sometimes soccer goes that way and we got the win.”
Thursday’s contest with Regents Academy from Nacgodoches is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
By Jon Walk