Elks season halted by El Paso Bel Air
WICHITA FALLS — A referee’s call 18 seconds into Burleson’s boys soccer regional semifinal with El Paso Bel Air might have changed to momentum of the game.
The Elks seemed to have scored just seconds into the game on a goal by Freddy Hernandez but the goal was disallowed because of a foul.
Burleson coach Travis Hughes said the ruling changed the entire complexion of the game as the Elks went on to fall to the Highlanders, 3-1, in a Class 5A Region I semifinal game at Memorial Stadium.
“Having that goal called back changed the whole game really,” Hughes said. “They called it really late, we were already celebrating by the time they called it. It really changed the game and then we played pretty bad the rest of the first half.”
Hughes said it took a while for his squad to recover from the blow of having the goal called back.
“I know it did (changed things for us),” Hughes said. “If it gets called right away before the ball’s in the net at least you can kind of brace yourself for it. When it got called so late it kind of took the air out of us. Then it took us a while to get it back.”
The Elks (21-2-5) suffered their first loss in 11 games. Burleson was making its first trip to the regional tournament since 1998.
Bel Air (26-1) defeated Lake Dallas (21-3-3) on Saturday, 4-1, in the regional final to advance to the state tournament.
The Highlanders scored twice in the first half to take a 2-0 lead into halftime.
Bel Air went up 1-0 seven minutes into the game when Oscar Valenzuela scored. The Highlanders added another goal off the foot of Omar Zamora to take a two goal advantage.
The Elks regrouped at halftime and played at a high level for the first 25 minutes of the second half. That was thanks in part to some simple instructions Hughes gave his team during the intermission.
“I told them to do the things we have been doing all year and pay attention to the things from the scouting report,” Hughes said. “We just had to calm down and play our game. We came out and put it to them the first 25 minutes and took it to them. We were able to get one in but we just couldn’t quite get that second one in. The last 15 minutes we were just out of gas.”
Caleb Yauger helped the Elks cut Bel Air’s lead to 2-1 with a goal 57 seconds into to the second half.
Zamora notched another goal with 15 minutes to play to give the Highlanders a 3-1 lead.
“You couldn’t ask for better effort this season,” Hughes said. “We got great leadership all year. It was a player’s team. Coach Kiene and I didn’t have to do much. The older ones where showing the younger ones how we did things. It’s a really special group. They deserve every win and accolade they received. We didn’t luck into anything. It was a lot of hard work over a number of years.”