It was senior night for the Waco High boys soccer team. They already clinched a division title but they didn’t let up in their last regular-season game.
It was a gritty, hard-fought game, but the Lions endured and beat the Manor Mustangs, 2-0, at the Waco ISD Sports Complex on Tuesday night.
The game seemed evenly matched. Both teams moved the ball well and had opportunities to take shots. The major difference was Waco High took their shots where Manor failed to follow through.
Waco High junior forward Gerardo Dominguez and junior midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez spent their evening bombarding Manor goalkeeper Edgar Rodriguez. The game could have easily gotten out of control if not for Rodriguez’s countless clutch saves.
The game’s first score came with 10:58 remaining in the first half. Gonzalez attempted a shot, but it was blocked. Dominguez then recovered the ball, dribbled toward the goal and smoothly tapped the ball around Rodriguez and into the right corner of the goal.
With 12:32 remaining, Waco High senior Jorge Cerrillo chased a bounding ball toward the right side of the penalty area. With a defender on him he made an acrobatic kick across the middle that ended up soaring into the left side of the goal.
Cerrillo said it was emotional to play his last home game but scoring a goal made it a little easier to say goodbye.
“Last game here at home, it breaks my heart that it might be the last time I stepped on this field,” Cerillo said. “There was a big crowd tonight. My parents and cousin came out to support me. The score made me feel like I was a hero tonight. I’m just trying to do my best and win games.”
Waco High senior goalkeeper James Barrientos said there was a little extra pressure to win their last game in front of a big crowd, but he is proud of not giving up a goal and glad his teammates stepped up to help.
“I’m glad I didn’t let any get in,” Barrientos said. “I planned on not getting scored on. The defense did a really good job. We have a mainly senior defense and they did a great job.”
Waco High Coach Kris Kahler said that senior nights are always emotional, but that he’s focused on executing in the playoffs.
“Every senior night I tell myself ‘it’s just another day, it’s just another day,’ but whenever I give the message to my seniors I always find a way to get a bug in my eye,” Kahler said. “It’s extremely hard to see them go. But it’s not over yet. No one is saying goodbye yet. We still have our jerseys in our bag. We’re extremely humble to be where we’re at right now but we also understand, when we play our first playoff game next Thursday or Friday, that could be the end of our season or the beginning of a successful run.”
Kahler said that he is proud of his team’s win, but thinks they could have taken advantage of more scoring opportunities.
“I think we had spurts throughout the game where we dominated,” Kahler said. “There were times where we struggled to score, but we scored when it mattered. I’m just trying to get the guys focused because we have playoffs coming up and we might only get a few chances a game.”
Waco High’s defense was a big reason for the shutout. Kahler said his defenders may not always get the credit they deserve, but they always perform when it counts.
“All those guys have been playing with me for three to four years,” Kahler said. “They know what their job is. They win the ball, they’re strong and they’re smart. They don’t get a lot of credit. But some of them, like Alexis Arranaga, are in the top 2 or 3 in goals for the team.”
The Waco High varsity soccer team won back to back district championships, the freshmen team went undefeated with a 22-0 and the junior varsity team went undefeated in district.