The Granbury Pirates are district soccer champs for a fifth consecutive season.
But upstart Alvarado had other thoughts as they led the visiting Pirates 1-0 at the half Saturday.
In the second half, however, the Pirates had the wind at their backs and took advantage to score three unanswered goals for a 3-1 victory.
The Pirates (16-3-5, 8-0-1 in 15-4A) gave up a fluke early goal when the ball got caught in the wind.
“It went straight up and got behind us,” said Pirate coach Doug Kissinger.
Kissinger said he wasn’t concerned with the halftime deficit because of the strong wind. He figured his team would take advantage of the reverse situation in the final 40 minutes.
“It’s hard to score from 18 yards out with the wind in your face,” he said.
Freddy Espinoza scored on a free kick with 24 minutes left in the game, forcing Alvarado to come out of its defensive mode. Seven minutes later Marco Ramirez gave Granbury the lead, and Ryan Hammonds added a security goal with eight minutes left.
The Pirates were also playing with only 12 players as several were out for work and vacations during spring break. Goalkeepers Patrick Kirby and Julio Moreno also saw time in the field.
“It was a change of scenery for them, and I’m sure they enjoyed it,” said Kissinger.
The Pirates were playing their regular-season final last night at rival Cleburne. While the game is meaningless for Granbury in the standings, Kissinger wants to go into the postseason on a winning note.
Last season the Pirates were one win away from becoming the first soccer team in GHS history to finish a season without a loss or tie when Cleburne came to town and topped them 1-0 in a shootout. The Pirates were then upset by Burleson in bidistrict.
“It is definitely motivation for me,” said Kissinger. “Hopefully the guys who were on that field last year are motivated.”
The Pirates will likely face Arlington Seguin in bidistrict Monday or Tuesday. The Cougars are currently the fourth-place team in District 16-4A and hold the tiebreaker over Mansfield Legacy.
Kissinger said the site of the game has yet to be determined, but he has given some thought to trying for a home-and-home coin flip.
“It’s our last year to play on this grass, so I’d like to have one more go at it,” he said.
Lady Pirates win big
With Maggie Kirby’s hat trick leading the way, the Granbury Lady Pirates took out some frustration on visiting Alvarado Saturday, winning 7-0.
The Lady Pirates (8-14-2, 2-6-1 in 15-4A) were never threatened as Alvarado could not penetrate the defense led by Kelci Slaughter, Lily Middleton, Aubrey Caudle, Marissa Baird, Lauren Wood and goalkeeper Kim Bantz.
“They played awesome,” said coach David Winkleman.
Kirby also had an assist, while Caudle scored a pair of goals with an assist.
The Lady Pirates will miss the postseason after posting the two most successful seasons in the program’s history, reaching the fourth round and third round of the postseason. Injuries and one-goal losses left them on the short end of too many games.
“This win was nice,” said Winkleman. “It would be great to finish strong and send the seniors out on a winning note.”
The Lady Pirates were ending the season last night at home against Cleburne. The team only has four seniors.
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Granbury 0 3 – 3
Alvarado 1 0 – 1
Granbury goals (assists) – Freddy Espinoza (unassisted), Marco Ramirez (unassisted), Ryan Hammonds (Jacob Dyson).
Granbury record – 16-3-5, 8-0-1 in 15-4A.
Alvarado 0 0 – 0
Granbury 4 3 – 7
Granbury goals – Maggie Kirby 3, Aubrey Caudle 2, Kelci Slaughter 1, Courtney Heathington 1.
Granbury assists – Slaughter 3, Kirby 1, Caudle 1, Heathington 1, Ariel Davila 1.
Granbury record – 8-14-2, 2-6-1 in 15-4A.