Tournament play is a rigorous portion of the early-season soccer schedule each year, not only at Kilgore High School, but at most East Texas programs, simply because it allows coaches to normally play games against unfamiliar competition, to prepare their players for what they might see when it counts in district play, and to get that right combination of a lineup that can produce a winner.
Here at both KHS soccer programs, winning is something that’s been done very regularly over the course of the last decade.
Kilgore’s soccer teams participated in tournaments last Thursday through Saturday, and will do so again this week. But they’ve both started very well.
The Lady Bulldogs started so well, in fact, that it would have been impossible for them to do better. In their own tournament last Thursday through Saturday, here at R.E. St. John Memorial Stadium, coach Todd BonDurant’s team went 4-0, outscoring opponents 12-4 along the way.
The 4-0 Lady ‘Dogs were to play at Longview on Monday, but that game was moved to Tuesday night, putting it after the print deadline for this edition of the News Herald.
Kilgore’s girls compete in a tournament in Forney this weekend, starting for them at 1 p.m. on Thursday against the Wylie junior varsity. Also on Thursday at 4 p.m., they’ll face Mesquite Horn.
On Friday, Kilgore plays North McKinney at 1 p.m., and Forney at 4.
In the Kilgore tournament, Kilgore shut down Lindale, 5-1, on Thursday (covered in Saturday’s News Herald), then beat Abilene Wyile Thursday night, beat Chapel Hill, 2-1, on Friday, and beat 6A’s Tyler Legacy (the former Tyler Lee) on Saturday.
The Bulldogs took part in a grueling tournament at Pine Tree. Coach Tom Wait’s ‘Dogs lost to Whitehouse in the opener on Thursday, and then beat Hallsville, 1-0, in the late game, as chronicled in Saturday’s print edition of the News Herald.
On Friday, Kilgore tied with Nacogdoches (1-all), shut out tournament host Pine Tree (3-0), and then played to a 1-all tie with Palestine on Saturday.
This week, the Bulldogs are off until Thursday, when they’ll begin playing in the Palestine tournament. For Kilgore’s boys, that begins at 10 a.m. that day against La Vega. Currently, headed into that game, the Bulldogs are 2-1-1 on the season.
They’ll follow with a game against Lindale at 2:30 Thursday, and then against Mabank on Friday night at 8:30.
In the final three games for KHS as a part of the Pine Tree tournament, Kilgore trailed Nac 1-0, but Tray Epps scored to tie things up on a chipped ball over the keeper, Wait said, allowing the ‘Dogs to get the tie, rather than take the loss.
In the second Friday game, against Pine Tree, Richie Avalos scored twice and Isaiah Ramirez scored on a penalty kick. And on Saturday, in the tie with Palestine, it was tight the entire way.
“We gave up an early goal in the first half,” Wait explained, “ and then (Tray) Epps scored the equalizer again.”
Wait complemented keeper Anthony Salinas, who covered the goal in all three games.
Avalos, Ramirez and Epps were named to the all-tournament team, as were Sabine’s Camden Childress, Pine Tree’s Christian Alfonso, Hallsville’s Erik Garcia and Lucentshy Ovide, Palestine’s Yoriel Reyes and Michael Chaidez, Nac’s Ivan Acosta, Edison Esparza, Joseph Flores, and Charlie Rodriguez, and Whitehouse’s Daniel Castetter, Kevin Nava and Luke Neely.