WICHITA FALLS — Teams talk about weathering the storm. It’s usually a figure of speech as they overcome deficits, injuries or a bad bounce.
But it was all too real Saturday in a Class 5A Region I final the Lake Dallas Falcons had dreamed of winning. A year after earning their first playoff victory, the Falcons were within reach of making a trip to Georgetown for the state tournament.
But El Paso Bel Air survived a Lake Dallas rally to force overtime with three goals in the extra sessions for a 4-1 victory.
The Falcons (21-2-3) had to chase the game after going against the wind in the first half. Bel Air’s Omar Zamora scored in the 29th minute for a 1-0 lead, and Lake Dallas was spending about 90% of its time playing defense.
With the wind, the Falcons owned the attack in the second half. The wind was such that the goals moved during halftime and had to be reinforced.
Some punts from goalkeepers went out 25 yards, back 30 yards and over the end line for corner kicks. The wind chill dropped below freezing as the rain let up.
“It wasn’t soccer,” Lake Dallas coach Brandon Martin said.
But it was competitive. Several shots and failures to clear resulted in a finish by Brock Pope, who bounced back quickly from an earlier yellow card, to tie the match at 1 with 4:44 left in regulation.
Bel Air came alive in overtime. Bryan Guzman scored for a 2-1 lead, assisted Juan Contreras on an insurance goal and scored again in the second OT for the 4-1 final.
“I’m proud of the boys tremendously this season,” Martin said. “They never quit in anything we were doing.
“We had tried to explore some different options to get the kids in a better environment for the game. This wasn’t a soccer game. Something like this — it boils down to being in the right spot at the right time [on the field] and a lot of luck.”
But the rain couldn’t wash away what Martin saw his club accomplish.
“All the time, the effort and emotion they put into the season — hopefully the kids who are coming up will see that and emulate that as well.”