“This is the most wild game I have ever been a part of, whether it be as a player or a coach. It was a roller coaster, the swings of highs and lows, the drama. We overcame a massive obstacle today and something like that can push to take you where we want to go.
There was no chance at a comeback.
Not down two goals, not with under two minutes left in the game, not with everything against you and so little time left.
These are all things Seven Lakes could have told themselves with just moments left in Friday’s Class 6A Regional Quarterfinal against Cinco Ranch. When everything looked against the Spartans down two with seconds ticking away in the match, but no Seven Lakes player ever lost their belief.
The Spartans stared down defeat and didn’t give in. They chose to fight, and they somehow found a way, scoring two goals in the last 90 seconds of regular time before going on to win the game in penalties as things finished 2-2 (4-3) in favor of Seven Lakes.
“This is the most wild game I have ever been a part of, whether it be as a player or a coach,” said Seven Lakes head coach Jimmy Krueger. “It was a roller coaster, the swings of highs and lows, the drama, it just had a bit of everything. We overcame a massive obstacle today and something like that can give you that push to take you where we want to go. We’re going to try to do the district well from here on out.”
Seven Lakes came into the game with all the confidence after having beat the Cougars twice in the regular season and having not trailed since the teams first game of the season, but it was Cinco Ranch that came out the aggressor, putting the Spartans on the back foot and creating opportunities of their own.
The Cougars got their reward in the second half, when Miguel Leite got ahold of a cross and headed it home to give Cinco the lead, and the Cougars got another with five minutes remaining when Victor Moreno volleyed a rebounded shot for a goal.
But Seven Lakes didn’t blink, the Spartans kept the pressure, kept pushing and got their goal with one minute and 25 seconds remaining on a shot from Kortay Koc off of a deep cross. They continued that pressure into the dying seconds and with just two seconds left in the match got another opportunity, earning a penalty from a high kick in the box, which Morrison calmly stepped up and buried to tie the game and send it to extra time.
“I knew that I had to do it, there was no choice, I had to make that penalty,” Morrison said. “My seniors were counting on me and I couldn’t let them down, I had to make it for them. I cleared my head, took a deep breath and slotted it home.”
Neither team could break the deadlock in extra time, forcing the game to go to penalties. Seven Lakes missed their first attempt, but Cinco Ranch missed later evening things. Then Ben Aviles Vera made the biggest play of the match, getting his hand on the final Cinco Ranch penalty attempt and saving it, clenching the Spartans a spot in the regional tournament in the process.
“I knew he was going to go that way,” Vera said. “We had watched film and I knew he liked the side to me left. I prepared for it and got a good jump and I was waiting. It was just an amazing feeling to make that save and celebrate with my teammates.”
The Spartans aren’t done, their goal is to get back to state and finish the job. The next step in that is in the regional semifinals, where Seven Lakes will take on Clear Springs at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Abshier Stadium in Deer Park.
“Tonight was unexplainable,” Morrison said. “I still can’t believe it happened. I can’t compare this to anything, I wouldn’t give it up for anything and nights like tonight make me feel like I could do this for my whole life. It was amazing.”