BY RAUL GARCIA
McALLEN— McAllen High goalkeeper Lexi Gonzalez faced down McAllen Memorial’s Bailey Sullivan as she set up for the Mustangs’ do-or-die penalty kick.
The score was 4-3, with McHi leading after regulation ended 0-0.
Each team’s first two strikers went up and converted. Each missed the third set, and the fourth duo each scored to make it 3-3.
McAllen High’s Bella Diaz stepped up next, and lifted the Bulldogs to their 4-3 advantage.
All Gonzalez had to do from there was stop the Mustangs’ final shot.
Sullivan took her opportunity, shot it high and to the left, and Gonzalez waved it off, sparking her teammates to charge the field and meet her in their sudden death 4-3 celebration.
“There was a lot of adrenaline coming down to those PKs. I was really focused and ready to go,” Gonzalez said. “It was probably one of our toughest games. Memorial has a really good team, and it was a hard win, we succeeded and I’m really happy about that.”
Both teams came into the contest undefeated in district.
McAllen Memorial came into the contest ranked No. 5 in the state in Class 6A girls soccer — according to the Texas Girls Coaches Association — riding a 14-0 record. McAllen High entered the game ranked No. 15 with an 11-1 record.
“Any time we can get a win it’s a great night,” McAllen High head coach Patrick Arney said. “We have Lexi to thank for that, and the girls played well.”
The Bulldogs got their shots on goal early into the game but could not convert, and controlled possession of the ball for most of the contest.
Both teams tried gaining the upper hand off long passes to get into scoring position, but both defenses were there to close the gaps.
“It was one of those nights with the conditions, it was so wet, the ball was slipping sliding and we couldn’t get a lot of good traction out there and that was tough,” Arney said. “Memorial did really well and we have to congratulate them, but I’m really proud of the girls the way they hung through at the end and put the game away.”
McAllen Memorial goalkeeper Ashley Moreno waved off all of the Bulldogs’ shots on goal during regulation.
“She really stepped up as a quality starting goalkeeper,” McAllen Memorial head coach Matthew Kaiser said. “It played out as we thought it would. We knew it was going to be a tough game for both teams. For it to end in a tie in regulation is not a surprise. We had been practicing PKs. We were ready for that. We anticipated that. But PKs is a crazy animal — sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t.”