GEORGETOWN — One hundred minutes of play wasn’t enough to find a winner in the UIL Class 5A state semifinal between Valley View and El Paso Bel Air.
The match was decided in penalty kicks after each squad found the net three times in regulation, but came up empty in 20 minutes of extra time.
After nearly 2 1/2 hours, the Highlanders prevailed 4-2 in penalty kicks.
Valley View’s season concludes in the same round as it did a season ago, one match away from the state title game.
In PKs, two Tigers scored and Valley View keeper Diego Cuellar made a save. It wasn’t enough, however, because Bel Air’s goalie Kevin Peña made two saves to give his team the edge.
“Since the beginning, El Paso (Bel Air) was a really good team. They knew how to pressure us,” Tigers junior Jorge Amaya said. “Their positions were really on top of the game. It was really hard, but we found their weaknesses.”
Freshman forward Yonathan Castro was a standout in his state debut for Valley View. He scored once and was instrumental in forcing a defender to make a play that ended up in an own goal. The pair of goals turned the tide toward Valley View in less than a minute at the end of the first half to put the Tigers in front, 2-1.
“We were very calm even though their talent is amazing,” Bel Air coach Sergio Delgado said. “They have so much talent, such good athletes. I think they broke us in the last 25 minutes of the first half and we had to come back and adjust.”
For the second year in a row at state, Valley View found itself playing from behind early. Three minutes into the match, Bryan Guzman sent a howitzer into the wind that seemed to catch a gust and sailed into the top corner from 38 yards out.
In 2018, Valley View allowed a goal during the first 10 minutes but was unable to knot the game.
Castro’s goal and the own goal held until Guzman scored his second for the Highlanders with a crafty flick into the net.
Another storyline during the second half was Amaya’s health. The midfielder suffered an apparent knee injury, but was able to finish the match after a few moments testing the leg.
“Under no circumstances was I going to leave my team on the field,” Amaya said. “I’ve been playing varsity since freshman (year) and I’ve always wanted to help and support my team through every situation. I knew I had to go back in and help my team.”
The final 10 minutes of regulation was hectic with the Highlanders watching their season on the line and prying overtime from the jaws of defeat.
With 7:35 remaining, Pablo Torre sent a bending shot past the keeper to give Valley View a late 3-2 lead. The elation was short-lived because Bel Air marched down the field and tied the game 58 seconds later.
The Tigers were given a gift in the form of handball less than a minute later. Defender Adrian Rodriguez was tabbed to take the kick but his shot hit the spot where crossbar meets post.
For the third time in the 2019 playoffs, the Tigers needed overtime. This was the first time they didn’t score in the 20 additional minutes.
“The guys gave it all. The kids gave it all they got,” Valley View coach Damien Magallan said. “Unfortunately, soccer’s that way. … When the ball doesn’t go in, it’s kind of hard.”
The coach said despite the disappointment, the group will use the result as fuel for another run.
“We have a lot of kids that are coming back,” Magallan said. “All of them are going to come back with the experience that they gained from the state tournament.”