FORNEY – The Palestine Wildcats season came to an end Friday night on the field of City Bank Stadium in a 3-2 shootout loss against the Celina Bobcats.
All eyes were on the Wildcats as they attempted to make their third trip to the state soccer tournament in the past four years. Palestine entered the state quarterfinals game as the second-ranked team in class 4A, while Celina entered the matchup ranked 25th.
However, the Bobcats did upset third-ranked Paris in the regional semifinals Tuesday.
A sizable turnout in Forney set the tone for this regional finals contest. However, fans would have to wait nearly two hours for game action to begin due to a severe lightning delay.
Palestine had been the only team in their region to hold two consecutive opponents to zero goals and that defensive prowess was on display once again. Palestine controlled time of possession and had their share of opportunities in the first half though Celina kept them out the net.
Second half weather conditions begin to have a visible impact on both team's performance. Winds picked up to 18 miles per hour a few minutes into the second half before topping off at 21 miles per hour halfway through the contest.
It's a situation Palestine experienced in the prior game against Community where wind speeds got up to 16 miles per hour.
Fortunately for the Wildcats, they were kicking with wind in the second half as Celina struggled to get any type of movement on their kicks down the stretch.
The highlight of the second half came inside the final three minutes when a diving save from Jesus Vigil kept Celina off the board in regulation.
With the score still at zero the teams prepped for overtime.
Palestine won the coin toss and elected to kick against the win in the first period of extra play, which would give them the advantage of kicking with the wind in the second period.
Still, neither team took advantage of the wind conditions. The next stop was a shootout.
Palestine's Diego Farias stepped to the box first. His kick sailed over the net. Celina responded by powering a kick into the right side of the net.
Andy Garcia was next up for the Wildcats and successfully tied it at 1. Celina wasted no time regaining the lead as the ball was rocketed into the bottom left of the net.
Tony Garcia's was third as his kick went wide right past the net. The Bobcats continued to press as they extended their lead to 3-1.
Arturo Nieto booted his try into the left side of the goal to trim the score to 3-2.
Celina had an opportunity to close the game on their fourth kick, but had the ball slam off the top bar of the goal.
Ty Carnes was the anchor for Palestine. He ran at the ball and blasted it to the right as Celina's goalkeeper made a diving save to win the game and elevate his team to the state tournament.
Palestine finishes the season 29-6-2 with their type scorers, Arturo Nieto and Diego Farias, returning for their final season.