Thursday marked the start of pool play for the Palestine Wildcats boys soccer team in the Palestine Wildcat Classic.
The team started in the morning with a 4-1 win against Mexia in the first match for both teams.
Scorers in the first game were Cass French on a penalty kick, Carlos Ruiz assisted by Wilmer Marquez, Wilmer Marquez assisted by Adrian Rodriguez and Wilmer Marquez had another goal assisted by Adolfo Loera.
The win in the first match gave the Wildcats momentum heading into their 5 p.m. matchup against Whitehouse in which they tied 1-1.
In what was a close match the entire time, Whitehouse and Palestine started out the afternoon match with a lot of back-and-forth play.
Palestine had advantages throughout the first half and was even able to get some solid shots off, but none of the Wildcats’ shots made it into the net.
The second half started much like the first half, with a good amount of movement for both sides, but no scoring.
Palestine’s defense up till the 19:13 mark left in the second half was stellar. It had stopped all of Whitehouse’s attempts, but during this stretch, there was a lapse, and the Whitehouse striker scored right past Palestine’s keeper.
Now down 1-0, Palestine was looking for a chance to get back into the game.
With 13:30 left in the second half, Wilmer Marquez corralled the ball from a nice pass from Adrian Rodriguez and sailed the shot over Whitehouse’s keeper’s outstretched arms and into the back of the net.
Palestine coach John Absalom said getting that tying goal was something that the Wildcats had to have, or else this match could have ended up ugly.
“This was just one of those games that if you don’t put the ball in the back of the net, and you make one little mistake on defense, they’ll score on you,” Absalom said. “We were lucky to be able to tie them 1-1. My guys were disappointed with the tie, obviously, because they felt like they played at a high level.
“That goal meant a lot to us because there are teams that see they’re down with 18 minutes left and can’t pull themselves out of it,” he added. “I liked that we fought and got that extra goal. I thought we continued to put extra pressure on them even after we scored. I like the hungriness.”
This early in the season, Absalom mentioned that he likes where his team is at, chemistry-wise. He said there are a few things the Wildcats can tweak to be a little bit better as the season goes on.
“If we can finish our attacks, we’ll be in good shape,” Absalom said. “But for it being this time of the year, I feel really good about the way we’re playing so far.”