FORT WORTH – Granbury Pirate soccer player Marco Ramirez said he understands the current playoff run is emotional.
And the emotion he’s evoking most is joy.
“I play it like it’s fun,” he said after his team’s 2-0 victory against Diamond Hill-Jarvis Friday at Farrington Field.
Of course, Ramirez helped to make it even more fun, scoring a security goal with 2:44 remaining, off of an assist from his friend and teammate Fernando Sanchez.
Earlier, with 10 minutes left in the first half, Ramirez fed Sanchez the ball for a goal and a 1-0 halftime lead.
“They really work well together,” said Granbury coach Doug Kissinger. “It’s a real nice combination.
“And Fernando works really well coming off the bench. He’s a fresh pair of legs. He brings energy in, lifts everybody back up.”
Sanchez scored two goals in the 3-2 double-overtime bidistrict victory against Arlington Seguin. Ramirez assisted on one.
Between them Sanchez (3 goals, 1 assist) and Ramirez (2 goals, 2 assists) have accounted for all of the scoring and almost all of the assists in the two playoff victories for the Pirates (19-3-5).
Friday’s victory lifted the Pirates into the third round of the playoffs for the second time in three seasons with Kissinger as coach. They will play Mansfield Lake Ridge (10-7-5) Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Fort Worth’s Clark Stadium.
Should Granbury win, it would be the Pirates’ deepest playoff penetration since 2003, when they lost in the regional semifinals.
In all likelihood Friday, Sanchez’s goal was more than enough as the Granbury defense held Jarvis (9-6-1) without a shot for the final 75 minutes of the game. This was after Jarvis got off three shots within the first five minutes, including one from point-blank range a few feet in front of the goal that goalkeeper Julio Moreno was able to fend off.
“We just made a few mistakes in the very beginning. We might have been a little nervous,” said Kissinger. “Then we lightened up and solved our problems.”
But while the Pirates had a commanding 15-3 overall shots advantage, they couldn’t capitalize again until late, keeping the pressure on themselves.
“It was hard to keep them off. We were looking for the other goal,” said Ramirez.
“We were just trying to possess the ball and hoping to score again,” said Fernando Aguardo. “Sometimes when you back off and go into a defensive mode, it can hurt you.”
“You can’t let off with just a one-goal lead. You’ve got to keep pushing and trying to get another one. You get a deflection, and the ball goes in for them, and suddenly all the momentum is gone their way.”
Granbury also had more than twice as many free kick opportunities (5-2) and had four corner kicks to one for Jarvis.
The Jarvis goalkeeper kept the score 1-0 when he stopped back-to-back point-blank shots by the Pirates seven minutes into the second half.
With five minutes remaining, the Pirates got a little bit of a scare. Jarvis had a golden scoring opportunity when the Pirates’ goalie was out of place, but the Eagles were again thwarted by the staunch Granbury defense and couldn’t even muster a single shot attempt.
“We take a lot of pride in our defense,” said Kissinger. “And we were playing very solid today. They were determined not to give them much to work with.”
The Pirates were clearly wary and remembered what happened earlier in the week when Arlington Seguin scored with just under four minutes to play to force overtime.
Jarvis was playing without three of its top players, who were taking college tests. That left them with a roster of about 15 compared to 27 on the Pirates.
“Jarvis had to be nervous,” said Kissinger. “They didn’t pressure us at all.
“In the second half they stepped it up, but we stepped in front of everything they had, crosses, in front of shots, they couldn’t get anything past us.”
The shutout was the 13th of the season for the Pirates, who are 15-0-3 over the past 18 games. It moved them to within two shutouts of the team record set during the 1999 state championship season, a team on which Kissinger played.
In fact, the Pirates have not lost since January. The lone blemish on their record since the start of district is a 1-1 tie with Stephenville.
But Kissinger isn’t concerned with records at the moment, although he would like for his team to become only the second in school history to win 20 games in a season. The 1999 squad finished 21-1.
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Class 4A Region I Boys Area Soccer Playoff
Granbury 1 1 – 2
DH-Jarvis 0 0 – 0
Granbury goals (assists) – Fernando Sanchez (Marco Ramirez), Ramirez (Sanches).
Granbury goalkeepers – Julio Moreno, Patrick Kirby.
Records – Granbury 19-3-5, Jarvis 9-6-1.