KENNEDALE — Palestine High School goalkeeper Christian Hutchinson now belongs to a pantheon unto himself.
Hutchinson didn't even make a single save to earn his 49th career clean sheet — a new school record — on Saturday evening in a 4-0 victory over Kennedale at the Kennedale Round Robin.
“Christian will be playing for us for another year and a half,” said Palestine head coach John Absalom. “So, that might become unreachable. He has done a phenomenal job between the posts for us.”
Absalom reported Hutchinson has become a more vocal leader this year, and he's provided a “calming effect” for a new Palestine defensive alignment.
Easton Musil and Brian Armenta have developed a great chemistry as the Wildcats' center fullbacks. Lizardo Lemus has been a fortress on the flank. Daniel Sanchez has adjusted to a more defensive role this season. Sophomore Yoriel Reyes has added to Palestine's success on defense.
Palestine (13-0-2) has allowed just two goals in 15 games — an astoundingly low number — and one of the main reasons why MaxPreps has the Wildcats ranked No. 1 in Texas' Conference 4A.
Hutchinson's 49 clean sheets surpasses Fabio Chavez's 48. Chavez was Palestine's goalkeeper from 2009-12. Bennett Gierkey, who was the Wildcats' goalie during the 2016 championship season, is third with 39.5 clean sheets.
Palestine ended up winning the Kennedale Round Robin, accumulating 51 points — three more points than 4A No. 3 North Dallas. Fort Worth Diamond Hill-Jarvis was third (37).
Absalom said he was pleased to see the Wildcats play with urgency, especially noting matches were played with 25-minute halves. Essentially, this was McSoccer.
The Wildcats scored twice in both the first and second halves versus Kennedale.
Tony Guzman netted the first goal off a through ball from Sanchez. Riley Harper booted home the second goal off a Luis Rangel cross into the box.
Two Sanchez's teamed up for Palestine's third goal — with Daniel scoring and Jose assisting. Lizardo Lemus tallied a rare goal for a defender, with Abrahan Nunez picking up the assist.
Palestine finished with a 2-0 edge in corner kicks, one of them forced by some clever play from Miguel Alejo.
The Wildcats lodged 12 shots, five of which were on frame.
Also on Saturday, Palestine downed Athens, 2-0. Tony Guzman and Sanchez were Palestine's goalscorers. Musil and Harper both had assists.
Palestine has three non-district matches left, and the Wildcats played one of them Tuesday evening versus Conference 5A Lindale at home.
Palestine JV “B”
TYLER — The Palestine junior varsity “B” boys' team incurred its first loss of the season on Monday, falling to Conference 5A Tyler John Tyler, 5-2.
Bryan Cruz scored both of the Wildcats' goals — one via penalty kick and one on a restart. Both teams' goalkeepers had difficulty with stiff northerly winds.
JV “B” is 2-1-1.
LUFKIN — The Palestine varsity girls' soccer team rallied to take a 2-l lead during Saturday's match versus Lufkin Hudson.
However, the Lady Hornets scored a goal in the 70th minute and the LadyCats settled for a 2-all tie — bringing Palestine's season record to 4-6-5.
Tyler Junior College pledge Isabel Garcia scored both goals for the LadyCats.
Iris Chavez had the assist on Garcia's first goal — then Isabel blasted home a penalty kick for the other.
Jacksonville blanked Palestine 4-0 on Friday, as the Maidens outplayed the LadyCats. Goalkeeper Judith Casas had five saves in the loss.
Palestine traveled to Athens for a JV/varsity doubleheader on Tuesday.
Sheyla Rodriguez scored Westwood's lone goal in a 5-1 non-district loss versus Madisonville this past Friday at Panther Stadium.
Even though Westwood and Madisonville are District 18-4A opponents, both schools had an open date and the Lady Panthers and Lady Mustangs decided to play each other.
Ashlyn Jones was Westwood's starting goalkeeper.
Westwood played Crandall at home on Tuesday evening.
For more on Tuesday's matches, read the Thursday edition of the Palestine Herald-Press.