The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Sports

March 22, 2013

H.S. Soccer: Palestine boys clinch share of title; girls clinch second

It’s been 15 years since the Palestine boys’ soccer team had a chance to call itself a district champion.

On Friday, that all changed.

UT-Tyler-bound Kaleb Garcia scored two first half goals, and Palestine added three in the second half as they rolled to an easy, 6-1 win over Diboll Friday at Palestine’s Wildcat Stadium.

With the win, Palestine earned a share of the District 35-4A championship with Nacogdoches.

“It feels great,” PHS coach John Absalom said. “To be here this long and to go up against some good 4A schools...and for these kids, it’s great.”

The Dragons come to Palestine at 7 p.m. today for a game to determine who gets the district’s No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

Garcia got Palestine on the board less than three minutes in, when he headed home a cross from Alonzo Cruz to give Palestine a 1-0 lead.

After the Wildcats missed three or four golden opportunities to extend the lead even further, Garcia again found the back of the net, connecting on a cross from Pablo Aguilar to double the Wildcat lead.

It proved handy, as not three minutes later a Diboll shot was partially blocked Palestine goalkeeper Jose Cabrera, but trickled past the senior and into the back of the net to make it 2-1.

But, Palestine responded well and, with just under five minutes to play in the half, Cass French stole a Diboll pass and started a Wildcat counter-attack.

French found Wilmer Marquez with a wonderful threw ball, and Marquez capped the beautiful play with a chip over the head of a charging Diboll goalkeeper.

That gave Palestine a 3-1 halftime lead, and the Wildcats never looked back.

With a comfortable lead, Absalom only played his starters for the first 15-or-so minutes in the second half. But, the group was on the field long enough to put another ball in goal.

This one came after Marcelo Zavala started a breakaway and beat a charging Diboll keeper. He then slid a pass to Marquez, who finished the goal with authority to make it 4-1.

From there, it was simply icing on the district champion cake.

With just under six minutes remaining, Treven Carr found Christian Aleman for the Wildcats fifth goal, and Lenis Lopez slotted home a penalty kick with a minute remaining to finish things off.

It’s Palestine’s first district title in 15 years, and give the Wildcats prime playoff positioning no matter what happens in today’s tiebreaker match.

“We’re not done,” Absalom said. “We’re still on a mission. We’ve still got a long way to go.”

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