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Marble Falls boys soccer beats Florence to stay in first place

CAPTION: The Marble Falls Mustangs gather for their post-victory photo before seniors perform their annual balloon release after the final regular season game at Mustang Stadium. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

The Marble Falls High School boys soccer team crushed Florence 11-0 March 3 in a bounce-back win after losing to Austin Achieve 4-3 Feb. 28.

The outcomes keep the Mustangs (16-5, 7-1 District 25-4A) in first place with two matches remaining though Achieve (11-8-1, 7-1) has the same record.

If the two end the regular season with the same record, they would be co-district champions. Because soccer uses a point system, a seeding match would not be played to determine which squad enters the Class 4A playoffs as the first seed representing District 24.

The determining statistic for the top seed is goals allowed. Marble Falls has allowed two fewer goals so far.

“First thing is first — we have to win,” head coach Rick Hoover said. “And if we give up more than two goals (in the final two matches), we’ll be the second seed.”

The Mustangs showed a commitment to the task in shutting out Florence. Most of the 80-minute match was played on the Buffaloes’ side of the field, and Marble Falls needed only 4 minutes and 31 seconds to take the lead thanks to Victor Sanchez’s goal.

Needless to say, the Mustangs continued the pressure throughout and kept Florence on its heels with shots from different players, different angles and from different yards away from the goal.

Fernando Arreguin and Sanchez each score twice. Lisandro Mata, Garrett Goggans and Diego Mata each added a goal.

“Set the score to the side,” Hoover said. “I was really happy. We started out strong. And we didn’t start out with our normal starters. We started with our seniors. There were early goals when we didn’t have our horses in.”

Sanchez and Lisandro Mata found the back of the net for the first time all season.

“That was Lisandro’s first varsity goal ever,” the coach said.

It was Marble Falls’ final regular season appearance in Mustang Stadium. Before kickoff, coaches of the boys and girls programs honored seniors and their parents. So Hoover took it a step further by starting the seniors.

And few were disappointed.

“This is one of those games that a lot of kids got to play,” Hoover said. “This was good preparation going into the playoffs. This has been really good for these guys.”

While offense gets fans excited, the coach pointed out the Mustangs were equally dominant defensively. Diego Mata, Seth Parker and Goggans were moved to defense for most of the second half.

“(Florence) couldn’t penetrate our defense, which creates offensive opportunities for our boys,” he said. “Florence tried hard. They worked hard, they never quit. There were no cheap fouls. I always feel bad when a game is this one sided. And I can’t tell my guys not to score.”

The Mustangs entered the Florence game determined to have a better start than against Achieve.

The Polar Bears led 4-0 at the half and though Marble Falls made a furious comeback in the second half, they couldn’t score the equalizer.

Hoover acknowledged that while the Mustangs couldn’t win a district crown by beating Florence, they could certainly lose one. And applying the lessons from the loss was on full display against the Buffaloes.

“One thing as a coach I preach is you can’t worry about the past,” he said. “We wish we could have (the Achieve contest) over, but we can’t. We can control the next game. (That) was bound to happen, to have an off game. We’ve had a tremendous season. History has proven you’ll have a game where you’re not hitting on all cylinders. We played hard and still almost pulled that one out. We can control our future. All we have to do is take care of business.”

Marble Falls travels to Jarrell Tuesday, March 7, and then to Burnet Friday, March 10, for 7 p.m. matches.

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