High School Boys Soccer

Falcons catch big break, advance to regional quarters

By Dennis Silva II, Sports Editor
Posted 3/31/21

Tompkins’ boys soccer team kept getting chance after chance after chance. Quality shot after quality shot. And through the first 63 minutes of their Class 6A area playoff game Tuesday, March 30, against Cy-Fair, the Falcons had only one goal to show for it.

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High School Boys Soccer

Falcons catch big break, advance to regional quarters

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Tompkins’ boys soccer team kept getting chance after chance after chance. Quality shot after quality shot. And through the first 63 minutes of their Class 6A area playoff game Tuesday, March 30, against Cy-Fair, the Falcons had only one goal to show for it.

And then, Tompkins caught a break. A game-changing one.

With 17:17 left and his team up 2-1, Cy-Fair starting goalkeeper Danny Bahena, a junior, took a hard fall to the ground. He was removed from the game with what Tompkins coach Tom Jones was told was a head injury.

Senior backup David Donoso entered, and all of a sudden, the Falcons found their mojo. In a span of three minutes, junior midfielder Rafa Gonzales scored the equalizer, sophomore midfielder Luis Lugo tallied the winner, and senior midfielder Jose Ojeda added his second goal of the evening for insurance as Tompkins rallied in dramatic, exhilarating fashion for a 4-2 win at Jordan High School.

The Falcons improved to 13-5-2 and set up a regional quarterfinal meeting Friday, April 2, with Seven Lakes, which improved to 19-1-1 courtesy of a 2-0 area win over Cy Ridge.

With Bahena between the posts, Tompkins generated seven healthy chances, capitalizing on one—Ojeda’s shot from center 18 minutes in that deflected off Bahena into the goal. But with Bahena out and Donoso in, the Falcons scored three goals from the 15:44 to 12:37 marks of the second half, turning frustrating disappointment into euphoric elation.

“I think it changed the game,” Jones said of Bahena’s injury. “We were able to seize the moment and get that second goal, and it kind of snowballed for us after that. In the second half, I felt it was just a matter of time. When one fell, I felt we would get a couple.”

It was quite a bit of good fortune. Jones said he thought his team was still on a high from its eye-opening 2-1 bi-district playoff win in overtime over previously undefeated Ridge Point on March 26. He saw a considerable lack of urgency early, even during pregame warmups.

“It took a little while for us to get focused,” Jones said.

The Falcons kept attacking, however. They may have hesitated on some shots here and there as the number of shots grew but the number of goals didn’t, but they kept peppering the Bobcats’ keepers with them. When Donoso entered, that became even more of an emphasis.

“Put shots on frame and make him make saves,” Jones said.

Gonzales’ equalizer came from dead center with 15:44 left as he crossed right to left and launched a lofty strike over Donoso’s outstretched hands.

“I saw two players in front of me, and I saw one leave to go track one of my teammates on my right,” Gonzales said. “I took him one on one, put it on my right, and went in. It changed the game. It brought our energy up right away.”

A little more than 100 seconds later, Lugo, the team’s leading scorer who has goals in both playoff games, put the Falcons ahead to stay.

“It went out wide, and when I’m out wide and isolated, my goal is to be a dog,” Lugo said. “Have that grit. Don’t be scared. Create. I’m ambidextrous, so I went to my right, he read it well, I stepped over and cut and saw a gap.”

The icing on the proverbial cake was Ojeda’s penalty kick 82 seconds later, which he shot to the low right of Donoso and turned toward fans in celebration before the ball crossed the goal line.

“It was disappointing to create chances and they’re not going in,” Ojeda said. “But you just have to keep a cool head and keep moving forward. That’s what we did, and obviously it paid off. We stayed confident in knowing what we could do.”

It has been a trying season for the Falcons. They finished fourth in the rough and rugged District 19-6A, but more so out of circumstance than any indication of how good they are. Multiple players were struck with COVID-19 early in the season and missed a significant amount of time, enough to where Jones pulled up six kids from the junior varsity to play. Senior captain defender Bryce Robisch has yet to even see a minute of playing time this season because of illness.

“We lacked that confidence before, but we’re finally starting to get that back,” Jones said. “They’re finding that groove where, if they keep going and keep pushing, it’s going to happen. Early in the season, we’d be in games like this and not finish that opportunity. Now the kids know they can win even if they get down and face adversity.”

Tompkins is anything but a fourth-place team. It is more the program that has represented Katy ISD at the regional tournament the previous two postseasons.

It is the young, gifted club—one which its two top scorers are sophomores— that shocked a regional titan in the first round of the playoffs.

“That game was the one we realized that we could prove everything,” Lugo said. “We knew we could show everyone in the area, in the state, what team we are, to beat the best. We are the best. We have the history. We showed up and did it, and now we feel like we can take on anything.”

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