Now that they have a fifth consecutive district championship safely tucked away, the Granbury Pirates hope to make a deep run in the soccer playoffs beginning Tuesday.
Doing so would mean dismissing with the demons that have been haunting them in bidistrict in recent seasons. Three times in the past four years the Pirates were upset in bidistrict by the fourth seed from the opposing district.
Only in 2011, Doug Kissinger’s first season as head coach, did they break that drought, reaching the third round.
“If our defense continues to play like it has all year long, and our offense continues to attack, we should be fine,” said Kissinger.
“I think we thought too much into it last year,” he continued.
The Pirates (17-3-5) completed a 9-0-1 run through District 15-4A Tuesday with a 1-0 victory at Cleburne in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicates.
Cleburne, which finished fourth in district, never really had a scoring threat.
The Pirates broke the scoreless deadlock halfway through the second period when Ryan Hammonds scored on a penalty kick. While the Pirates dominated defensively, the goal erased thoughts of last season’s 1-0 shootout loss to Cleburne at Pirate Stadium, a loss that cost the Pirates the first perfect season in GHS soccer history.
That loss also sent the team into the postseason on a down note, culminating in a 2-1 upset loss to Burleson in bidistrict.
“This team’s come a long way. We’ve got more of a scoring threat than the beginning of the year when we were trying to figure things out,” said Kissinger.
The Pirates are 13-0-3 in their past 16 games. Tuesday’s shutout was the 12th of the season.
The 17 victories ties the 1993 team for the third most in a season by a Pirate team. The 1999 state champions won 21 and the 2000 team followed with 18.
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Granbury 0 1 – 1
Cleburne 0 0 – 0
Granbury goal – Ryan Hammonds (unassisted, penalty kick).
Granbury record – 17-3-5, 9-0-1 in 15-4A.